Urban youth in Richmond, Calif. will get more opportunities to spend time outdoors and learn about plants and trees, thanks to a $30,000 Forest Service grant and a $93,000 matching partner contribution, which will fund the Richmond Edible Forest project.
The money will be used to provide conservation education to 700 underserved youth through field trips, camping excursions, and opportunities to install three edible forests or gardens in Richmond parks and school areas. The project is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, Urban Tilth, and the City of Richmond.
“Every day we work in the Edible Forest, at least one neighbor comes over, stopping us for a moment, to say ‘Thank you’ for making the neighborhood a better place,” says Doria Robinson, executive director of Urban Tilth, a nonprofit that promotes community agriculture in west Contra Costa County. “The pride on their faces is priceless! The Edible Forest has be an invaluable opportunity for over 20 youth of color, primarily young unemployed men and boys to learn, and fall in love with nature.
“Now with this new funding, I see more opportunities to continue to uncover the nature that is right under our feet, connecting the people of Richmond with the forests, gardens and food we need to thrive.”
Since 2011, the station’s staff has collaborated on the edible forest project with Urban Tilth by providing scientific expertise, as well as physical labor, to the project. The edible forest serves as an environmental education site where station scientists and Forest Service land managers teach kids about the benefits of trees and forested landscapes.
On Jan. 21—Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service—station employees joined some 350 community volunteers to plant fruit trees, herbs and vegetables on the Richmond Edible Forest in Richmond, Calif. They worked on multiple sites along the Richmond Greenway—a former three-mile rail byway bordered by 32 acres of community gardens, composting sites and recreational space in a densely populated, underserved community—removing weeds, collecting seeds and replanting garden beds.
“To be out on the site and see the enthusiasm and ownership in the eyes of the youth that are designing and maintaining this project was truly inspiring,” says station director Alex Friend. “I am so excited about the contributions the Forest Service makes to this project, including this funding and the avid engagement of our station’s employees who volunteer their time helping with this every year.”
The Richmond Edible Forest project’s award was part of the $772,820 the Forest Service gave to More Kids in the Woods and Children’s Forests programs in 16 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More Kids in the Woods projects, which provided outdoor learning experiences for more than 55,000 children in Fiscal Year 2012, include activities and programs designed to spark curiosity about nature and promote learning through applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles. Hundreds of partners contribute their time, energy and resources within these projects to help connect kids and families with the natural world.
Headquartered in Albany, Calif., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawaii and the U.S.–affiliated Pacific Islands. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/psw/.