On this day, 239 years ago, John Chapman was born and would go on to change the American landscape and help to instill a certain fruit with national symbolism. Most know him better as Johnny Appleseed.
Folklore paints Johnny Appleseed as having walked across the country scattering apple seeds in the wilderness along his way. In fact, his plantings were more deliberate than that. Knowing how important apples were to settlers for making hard apple cider, he planted nurseries along the frontier, so that once settlers arrived, the trees they would need were ready.
At American Forests, we know that fruit-bearing trees continue to be important resources to communities around the globe. So, in honor of John Chapman’s birthday, let’s revisit some of our recent Global ReLeaf projects that planted fruit-bearing trees.
- Reforestation of the Peruvian Coastal Belt, 2009-2011
For this project, we partnered with Trees for Cities and the Association for Children and the Environment in Ica, Peru, to plant 10,000 trees and give local children a hands-on learning experience about the amazing huarango tree. In addition to providing fruit, this amazing tree can capture nine liters of water in its canopy each night, making it an important resource for battling desertification in area. It also enriches poor soils, providing natural fertilizer in which the children participating in the project planted their own vegetable gardens, following in the footsteps of John Chapman.
- Growing Tree Businesses Project, 2011
American Forests partnered with Tree Aid and a number of local Ghanaian groups, with support from Origins, to plant 15,166 trees in 10 northern Ghanaian villages vulnerable to drought and floods. The project focused on trees from which the local communities could harvest non-timber forest products, including citrus and mangoes. The project also provided participants with training surrounding tree maintenance, resource management and more, increasing food security for 955 rural entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur himself, I think Johnny Appleseed would have approved of the forest-friendly business practices.
- Planting Trees, Planting Hope in Rural Honduras, 2011
Together with long-time partner Sustainable Harvest International, American Forests reforested 90 acres with 25,000 trees in Honduras to restore a watershed that had been damaged by slash-and-burn agricultural practices and to provide fruit trees to help feed the local community — although not with alcohol as John Chapman did. Along with the tree planting, Sustainable Harvest International provides training to local farmers in sustainable practices, helping communities move away from destructive slash-and-burn practices.