Last Friday we were super excited to plant 14 fruit trees at The Mohammed Schools of Atlanta alongside students, parents, garden educators and Commissioner Ted Terry to fulfill garden leader Sister Terri Ali’s vision to create an edible soccer field. We donated several varieties -- including pineapple guava, loquat, serviceberry, fig, as well as mulberries -- and led the volunteer experience with knowledge and resources to ensure the school community could successfully maintain the trees.
The Mohammed Schools of Atlanta already has one of the preeminent school gardens in DeKalb County. Lovingly named Firdous Garden, the garden has raised beds, a greenhouse, and a small orchard. Additionally, the school recently received a USDA farm number, which makes their site eligible to receive support -- such as grant funding -- from USDA.
In 2020, the school sought to expand their garden to include the soccer field. Last year, they created row gardens to grow vegetables but also dreamed of installing fruit trees surrounding the field for quick, easy snacks for the students, as well as offering shade to parents watching from the stands.
“We wanted an edible soccer field in memory of the founders of the school and the sports program that have passed on. On a tour of the garden, science teachers Tazar Gissentanner and Serena Muhammad shared our vision with James and Jamie of Roots Down and the Commissioner, we were delighted when they offered to help us. Oh my, it was a wonderful laborious day. The beautiful fruit trees installed by Roots Down will be here for the enjoyment of many generations to come", says Sister Terri Ali. We are so proud of Dekalb county leading with the Fruitful Communities Initiative.”
“Planting fruit trees is one of our favorite things to do,” said Roots Down Founder and CEO Jamie Rosenthal. “It was great to work with Sister Ali and her school community to design and install these fruit trees. As a former farmer and educator, it’s been my goal to share this knowledge with people in urban settings. This planting was a dream come true.”
Roots Down is leading the Fruitful Communities initiative in DeKalb County with the support of Super 6 District Commissioner Ted Terry, who was on site to dig holes and plant fruit trees alongside the community. The Fruitful Communities initiative focuses on addressing food insecurity, creating green jobs, and developing policies that combat climate change at the local level. Commissioner Terry and Roots Down first piloted this program in Clarkston, where he previously served as Mayor, with a community designed micro-food forest and meadow system, and a first-of-its-kind urban grower training program for public works staff.