Local organizations partner with language learners to care for trees

English-language learners joined Portland Fruit Tree Project staff and volunteers to care for the Parkrose Community Orchard. Image courtesy of Portland Fruit Tree Project

By Marc Czornij, Environmental Services Tree Program & Confluence AmeriCorps

Three organizations, People-Places-Things (P-P-T), Portland Fruit Tree Project, and the Environmental Services Tree Program joined forces recently for a productive and fun-filled morning of tree care at the Parkrose Community Orchard. The excursion offered English-language learners from P-P-T’s Midland Library class the opportunity to step outside of the classroom to learn about common fruit tree pests and diseases, mulch the orchard to keep weeds out and moisture in, and make first-time connections with their English-speaking neighbors.

In 2014, P-P-T began partnering with the Bureau of Environmental Services to deliver tree and green infrastructure-focused English-as-a-second-language activities to east Portland’s English language learners. This recent event, dubbed an Excursion Learning Activity, was the latest effort to expand the partnership and include other community partners.

April Jamison, the Orchard Programs Coordinator with Portland Fruit Tree Project, saw the partnership as a way for her organization to build authentic relationships with members of east Portland’s immigrant and refugee community. The week prior to the excursion, Ms. Jamison joined us in class to engage our group with hands-on learning activities. Together, we introduced learners to common orchard tools, passed around a young fig tree (which we then planted together on Saturday morning), and tasted and talked about freshly picked figs.  

In 2017, P-P-T and the Environmental Services Tree Program will continue to provide English-language learners in east Portland with activities and excursions. Upcoming excursions will include planting trees with Friends of Trees and additional tree care opportunities with Portland Fruit Tree Project.

People-Places-Things’ Midland Library classes are free and held Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 PM. For more information, visit pptpdx.com/current-classes. To learn more about the Environmental Services Tree Program and its commitment to equitable service, visit portlandoregon.gov/bes/trees. 

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