Trees Matter: Growing Food and Community in West Phoenix
For a preview of this project, check out more before and after renderings.
Trees Matter, a local nonprofit organization, is implementing their Urban Food Forest program in West Phoenix, with the mission to inspire and promote an increased tree canopy in the Valley, especially in areas that lack access to green spaces and healthy food. Trees Matter is partnering with Microsoft, the Cartwright School District, and Project Roots AZ, a local food systems nonprofit, to create a more comprehensive project that incorporates student and neighborhood/community engagement with their local food forest.
A food forest is a type of urban agriculture that mimics a natural ecosystem and provides edible fruits, nuts, herbs, and vegetables for people and wildlife. Food forests are not only a source of healthy and fresh food, but also a way to connect with nature, improve the environment, and foster community.
The Cartwright School District in West Phoenix serves many diverse community members with some of the largest refugee populations in the City. This project serves under-resourced schools and the surrounding neighborhoods. Working with Cartwright, Trees Matter utilizes their STEM and food service personnel to build activities around food bearing trees on their campus and in their neighborhoods. Tree identification, harvesting, and processing resources and classes are also offered to the surrounding community, encouraging people to learn about access to food growing all around them.
The Urban Food Forest program also emphasizes the nutritional and environmental benefits of choosing local plant-based foods in education around the urban food forest, as animal-based foods are the #1 global cause of deforestation and one of the largest drivers of climate change.
The program also helps to:
- Distribute trees to increase the tree canopy in the West Valley
- Educate about planting trees in schools
- Promote knowledge and information regarding trees and food
- Advocate for tree equity and access to trees in underserved areas
Together with Trees Matter, Project Roots AZ, and the Cartwright School District, we can make the West Valley a greener, healthier, and more resilient place for everyone.
For more information about Trees Matter and their Urban Food Forest program, please visit their website at treesmatter.org or follow them on social media at @treesmatterphx.
Here's a preview of the project at Justine Spitalny STE³AM School once the new trees have matured
* Credit: Forest Climate + Visualization Partnership, a collaboration between Michigan State University Forest Carbon and Climate Program and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry