HOTEVILLA, Ariz. - It's the dream partnership that is now five-years-old and going strong.
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), based out of northern California, is an award-winning international non-profit charity dedicated to planting fruit trees and plants hoping to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming and benefit benevolent communities. Partnered with Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture under the direction of Jacobo and Lillian Hill-Marcus, FTPF seeks to create new drip-irrigated orchards for Hopis by planting fruit trees in each community and school for the benefit of its Native community members.
FTPF has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Today Show. They spread the hope that their promise for a healthy planet can spring from the seed of a single fruit tree.
Native reservation areas are just one of their targets for planting fruit trees to assist in improving surrounding air, soil and water. The resulting harvests can alleviate hunger, enrich lives and inspire community volunteers to take positive action in their own home communities.
For the school orchards, the students learn from working and maintaining the orchards to utilize new science and applicable sustainable practice skills as well as responsibility.
Each fruit tree that has been planted on Hopi can produce 200 pounds of new oxygen and can absorb 250 pounds of toxic carbon dioxide each year, as well as producing fruit that both humans and animals can eat.
The fruit trees selected for the Hopi areas house a variety of peach, apricot, nectarines, pears, apples, plums and persimmons. The first two years of nurturing such orchards require irrigation of some type since rain is sometimes not dependable. To assist in establishing these new orchards, efficient drip-irrigation systems are set in place by the FTPF and community volunteers along with each mass planting effort.
Hopi was selected by the FTPF because of its historic ties to the land through ancient dry-farming methods, as well as the enthusiasm of the volunteers at each Hopi village site.
Cem Akin, FTPF Executive Director was at Hopi for a week with three of his employees to work closely with Hill and Marcus putting in trees, mixing mulch, setting up the drip system and showing each community how to care and sustain their new orchards.
These tutorials are a part of the morning activity and then the actual planting work begins.
At each community, scores of local families and supportive community members showed up to work the earth, then all shared a communal appreciation meal hosted by the sponsoring community or school.
Akin stated, "Grafting, maintenance and upkeep are a major part of the commitment which Hopi has shown in the past five years since we started our partnership with Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture. I feel really fortunate to have [the HTP support] our efforts. The morning workshops that are held at every orchard planting also teaches the volunteers about mulching and to use what is available in their own home environments so that planting trees is practical and easy. So we encourage use of local straw or bark that can be gathered in their own natural areas."
"I'm lucky that in working with FTPF that I have been able to assist lots of Native communities, like Havasupai, Paiutes, Lakotas and several California tribes. We also in the past few years traveled to Brazil and this summer will be in India and Africa. Its been really rewarding to work with the Hopi people," he added.
Jacobo Marcus stated, "This project started pretty small five years ago. Then it just grew into a much larger communal project. I found [FTPF] on-line, then I contacted them personally and now we have three of our own employees ... that are certified orchard keepers ... We have held workshops on grafting, maintenance and general upkeep of orchards and plants ... [Recently,] we had over 80 volunteers at Hopi High School and we planted 150 trees. It was so inspiring to see that many people committed to their community well being. We also have planted 150 trees at Second Mesa Day School, 80 at STAR School and also we planted orchards this year at Tewa Village, Hotevilla Village and Shungopavy Village. These trees have brought people together. They are good for the earth and good for the environment, so its a real win-win situation."
For questions on maintaining the orchards or if you are interested in getting involved, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 225-6023.