Fruit Trees for Auckland is an initiative designed to nurture community cooperation and provide free access to healthy food. It also educates people about food sources and how to cultivate their own produce.
In 2008 Judith Holtebrinck, Mount Eden Village People coordinator, discussed the project with the then Eden Albert Community Board. The board approved funding for a trial project. In 2010, 131 fruit trees were planted and are now thriving.
“We started by working with schools,” Judith says. “The first schools now have wonderful orchards where the kids get involved in picking fruit and pruning and caring for the trees.
“Mandarin trees planted next to a soccer field are a great attraction and all the mandarins get eaten as soon as they are ripe.”
Fruit trees have also been planted on council land and in parks and reserves and the group is aiming to fund planting of more in the greater Auckland region, in parks, reserves and on grass verges.
“Our goal,” Judith says, “is to have this as an annual event. If we receive funding for only 500 fruit trees this year, then this is what we will work with. The aim is to increase the number of trees planted every year. We have written funding applications and contacted companies to join our mission.”
Mount Eden Village People is part of Transition Towns, a grass roots movement that helps communities deal with environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change and resource depletion.
Although Fruit Trees for Auckland is limited to the Auckland area, Judith says, subject to funding, the group is happy to extend the project.
“Communities outside this area can still benefit. If people are prepared to come and pick up a tree in Mt Eden village, they are welcome to apply for a fruit tree on our website. The more fruit trees we can plant now, the better for future generations.”