Public Fruit Trees are money savers and money earners. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Forest Service (USFS) report that public trees not only save money by their impact on the environment and public health, they can also increase consumer spending in retail areas by 12%, and increase property values by up to 10%.
• Trees earn $5.60 in benefits for every dollar spent on them (Million Trees NYC)
• A small urban tree earns $9–$14 per annum, increasing to $78 p.a. for a large tree (USDA)
• Over 40 years, 150 fruit trees will accrue a $108,000 return for the city (USFS)
Public fruit trees benefit the environment. U.S. Forest Service calculations suggest that every year 150 mature fruit trees will:
• Catch 306,000 gallons of rainwater in their spongy root systems
• Remove 39 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere
• Remove 457 lbs of pollutants from the air
Public fruit trees reduce crime. “A 10% increase in tree canopy was associated with a roughly 12% decrease in crime.” (University of Vermont, 2012). “The greener a building’s surroundings were, the fewer crimes reported.” (University of Illinois, 2001) Trees reduce crime either by drawing more people to public spaces (Jane Jacobs’ “eyes on the street” theory); signaling that people care about their neighborhood (James Q. Wilson’s “broken windows” theory); or fostering community cohesion and a greater sense of security (the Illinois study indicates that neighborhoods with significant greenery report a greater sense of community and a related reduction in crime).
How much greater are the benefits of fruit trees that are planted, tended, and harvested in community? As Pam Wadhurst, co-founder of a UK-based organization that grows food in public space, explains: “The police have told us that, year on year, there has been a reduction in vandalism since we started.”
Public fruit trees increase public health and food security by yielding both regular contact with nature, and delicious fresh supplemental nutrition for the entire neighborhood. Many studies, most recently from the University of Edinburgh, suggest that contact with nature beneficially impacts blood pressure, heart rate, mood, day-to-day effectiveness, social behavior, cognitive functioning, and work performance. “Regular contact with nature may be as important to our psychological and social health as the regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is to our physical health.”
Public fruit trees “ease the burdens of poverty” in inner city neighborhoods. According to Dr. Frances Kuo and her University of Illinois research team, the presence of trees and greenery in inner city neighborhoods helps low-income residents manage significant problems more effectively and feel more hopeful about the future. The study concludes that: “resident-based greening efforts could play a surprisingly valuable role in the arsenal of weapons against poverty.”
US Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research, Trees In Our City:
United States Department of Agriculture (2007), Interior West Community Tree Guide: www.itreetools.org/streets/resources/Streets_CTG/PSW_GTR205_Interior_West_CTG.pdf
Dr. Frances Kuo (University of Illinois, 2001), “Coping with poverty: Impacts of environment and attention in the inner city.” Environment & Behavior, 33(1), 5-‐34.
Dr Jane Tarran (2006), Trees, Urban Ecology and Community Health, 2006: www.treenet.org/wp-‐content/uploads/06TS-‐TREES-‐URBAN-‐ECOLOGY-‐AND-‐COMMUNITY-‐ HEALTH_Dr-‐Jane-‐Tarran.pdf
Austin Troy, J. Morgan Grove Jarlath O’Neil-‐Dunne (University of Vermont, 2012), The relationship between tree canopy and crime rates across an urban–rural gradient in the greater Baltimore region: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204612000977
Vincent Graff, Daily Mail, “Carrots in the car park, Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg”:
Million Trees NYC, Urban Forest Benefits: http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/html/urban_forest/urban_forest_benefits.shtml
Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times, “More research on the calming effect of being among the trees”:
http://actrees.org/news/trees-‐in-‐the-‐news/research/more-‐research-‐on-‐the-‐calming-‐effect-‐of-‐ being-‐among-‐the-‐ trees/?utm_source=Alliance+for+Community+Trees+Contacts+List&utm_campaign=75afd2e62 6-‐Treebune_News_13_Apr_1&utm_medium=email