Apple or avocado, fig or plum — San Francisco residents with a green thumb are invited to take their pick of fruit trees in an adopt-a-tree program launched by urban forest enthusiasts.
Starting Saturday, the nonprofit organization Friends of the Urban Forest will hand out 200 free trees for residents’ gardens and yards in neighborhoods with little greenery. The pilot program, called Adopt-A-Yard-Tree, will first be launched at the New Beginnings Community Festival in the city’s Bayview District.
Residents in eligible neighborhoods, which includes the Bayview, Excelsior, Outer Sunset, Richmond and the Tenderloin, can choose between six types of fruit trees and seven types of trees native to the region. Trees will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis at the organization’s four tree adoption events. Besides Saturday’s festival, dates and locations for the events are to be determined.
Along with their tree of choice, recipients will be given expert advice on how to care for the tree themselves. The trees must be planted in the ground on private property, like a yard or garden.
Anxious for an avocado
Bayview resident Yensing Sihapanya said she’s attending Satruday’s event in hopes of adopting her very own avocado tree, to both cut costs as grocery prices are rising and share fresh produce with her neighbors and friends. She added that she is new to gardening, but she’s excited to learn.
“I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get started,” said Shipaanya.
The program aims to up the amount of tree canopy in historically industrialized neighborhoods with little foliage. Friends of the Urban Forest officials said a thriving canopy can reduce pollutants, improve water quality, provide more shade and mitigate flooding.
“Native tree species increase habitat for native wildlife and pollinators, and fruit tree species increase community sustainability, food security, and resilience.”Brian Wiedenmeier, Friends of the Urban Forest
The program also gives the organization a chance to plant fruit trees and native species, which are highly requested in their street tree planting program, though usually not suitable, as fallen fruit can be a slipping hazard in the street, and the bigger basins needed to hold native species can be an obstacle for pedestrians and vehicles.
“Native tree species increase habitat for native wildlife and pollinators, and fruit tree species increase community sustainability, food security, and resilience,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of Friends of the Urban Forest.
A competitive $50,000 grant from the Arbor Day Foundation and the Bank of America, dedicated to improving climate resilience in vulnerable communities, made this project possible, alongside funds from Cal Fire’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Residents living both inside and outside of eligible areas are still invited to submit a yard tree adoption interest form, as Friends of the Urban Forest plans to seek additional funding opportunities beyond its pilot launch.