On a warm spring day in March of 2015, the vision of the “Grow to Give” Orchard came to fruition as ILM Tree students, Sienna Ranch families and community volunteers planted 100 fruit trees, mostly late varietal apples and pears on the eastern hillside under the leadership of the Urban Farmers non-profit. Visible on the right side of the driveway as you enter Sienna Ranch, Harvest Hill intends to provide for the property and community.
The Orchard’s Roots
How did this community partnership come to the ranch? In 2013, a group of the 8th graders from our on-site neighbors, a homeschooling cooperative known as ILM Tree (an acronym for “Inspired Learning for Muslims”), volunteered in the East Bay with The Urban Farmers, a non-profit gleaning-for-hunger-relief group which harvests fruit trees from local backyards and donates the fruit to local food relief agencies.
Inspired by their experience, the middle school students asked Sienna Ranch for space to plant its own “Grow to Give” orchard, to be planted and maintained in partnership with the Urban Farmers. ILM Tree agreed to raise funds. The Urban Farmers took on managing the planting details, tree purchases, and volunteer coordination while Sienna Ranch provided the land and the water for the trees of Harvest Hill. By 2015 these efforts by Sienna Ranch, ILM Tree, and The Urban Farmers were finally bearing fruit.
Dozens of volunteers from around the Bay Area helped ILM Tree, The Urban Farmers and Sienna Ranch prepare the orchard site. Exchange students, involving students from Guatemala and El Salvador as well as Acalanes High School, pulled out old fence posts and barbed wire fencing. The Seventh Day Adventist Young Teens group cleared weeds while their parents pounded new fence posts. A group of youth from San Ramon Valley Islamic Center dug out the holes for trees as adults hung deer-proof mesh fencing and bent wire gopher cages into shape.
The Orchard Today
Today, Harvest Hill is thriving as a sign of community partnership and connection to the food system during a time when things seem chaotic in the world around us. We have pear, apple, peach, apricot, fig jujube, pomegranate, persimmon, Asian pear, citrus, loquat, olive, chestnut, walnut, and hazelnut trees in the orchard that we harvest with classes, snack on, and give out at our donation farm stands throughout the year. The Grow to Give Orchard is an example of the good works that are possible when people of all ages and backgrounds come together to benefit the local communities around them.
Want to know more? Feel free to contact the Sienna Ranch office if you’d like more information about the progress of Harvest Hill and our wonderful neighbors ILM Tree.
Sienna Ranch Office- firstname.lastname@example.org, (925) 283-6311