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15: Civic Fruit

Lisa Gross

Can planting pairs of apple trees throughout a city act as a catalyst to bring diverse groups together to work on issues of food access, environmental justice, urban greening, and civic space?

Lisa Gross thinks so. She’s chairman and founder of the Boston Tree Party, a collaborative campaign to plant 100 pairs of heirloom apple trees in civic spaces across Greater Boston. In this episode, Alana talks with Lisa about the Tree Party and the possibilities for social cross-polination.


Listen to Episode 11 Episode 15: Civic Fruit

Listen to Episode 11 Boston Tree Party Inauguration Event

About Our Guest

Lisa is an artist who works in the field of social practice/social sculpture, her cross-disciplinary projects create opportunities for learning, connection, and multi-sensory engagement. She is the Chairman and Founder of the Boston Tree Party and the Director and Founder of Hybrid Vigor Projects.

She is also the founder and head of the Urban Homesteaders’ League, an advisor for the “Let’s Talk About Food” initiative at the Museum of Science, and a consulting artist for Artists in Context. Lisa is a third year MFA candidate at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts, and a graduate of Yale University.

Music in This Episode

Intro: “The Remainder,” Rosehips from the album Rosehips.

Intermission: “Your Contemporaries,” The Lindsay from the album Dragged Out.

Outro: “Enough,” Rosehips from the album Rosehips.


The Boston Tree Party is a collaborative campaign to plant 100 pairs of heirloom apple trees in civic spaces across Greater Boston. If you’re in the Boston area on Sunday, April 10, head out to the Rose Kennedy Greenway for the Inauguration, the Tree Party’s kick-off event. 

The Urban Homesteaders’ League is a community venture dedicated to inspiring and empowering individuals and communities to shift from a lifestyle of passive consumption to one of active participation, creation, and connection. You can find out more about upcoming events at their page on meetup.

All About Apples

Forgotten Fruits Manual and Manifesto: ApplesTo learn more about endangered apples, download Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto-Apples, a brochure from Slow Food USA that details the history, decline, nursery practices and local restoration efforts designed to bring back the most endangered heirloom apples to orchards, backyards, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and home kitchens across the country.

Slow Food USA also publishes Noble Fruits: A Guide to Conserving Heirloom Apples, designed as a resource guide to empower everyday people to take action against the decline in apple diversity. The guide features regional lists of endangered apple varieties, features on conservation efforts, and new project ideas.

Articles about Apples

Chaker, Anne Marie. 2010. “Before the Mac, Vintage Apples.” The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2010, Food & Drink.

Clark, Sandy Thorn. 2010. “Biting Into Heirloom Apples.” The Chicago Sun Times, October 5, 2010.

Corby, Kummer. 2008. “Beyond the McIntosh.” The Atlantic, May 2008, Food.

Hendrix, Muriel L. 2011. “Students use Technology to Preserve Heirloom Apple Trees.” The Working Waterfront, April 3, 2011.

Hensley, Tim. 2002. “Apples of Your Eye.” Smithsonian Magazine, November 2002, Science & Nature.

Nabhan, Gary Paul. 2009. “Forgotten Fruits.” Saveur, October 2009.

Yowell, Ed. 2010. “Our Disappearing Apples.” The Atlantic, November 22, 2010.

Books about Apples

Browning, Frank, and Sharon Silva. 2010. An apple harvest: recipes and orchard lore. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Bunker, John P. 2007. Not far from the tree: a brief history of the apples and the orchards of Palermo, Maine, 1804-2004. Palermo, ME: J.P. Bunker.

Calhoun, Creighton Lee. 2011. Old southern apples: a comprehensive history and description of varieties for collectors, growers, and fruit enthusiasts. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub. Company.

Clifford, Sue. 2007. The apple source book. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Clifford, Sue, and King, Angela. 2010. Community Orchards Handbook. Green Books.

Phillips, Michael. 2005. The apple grower: a guide for the organic orchardist. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub. Co.

Pollan, Michael. 2002. The botany of desire: a plant’s-eye view of the world. New York: Random House.

Sanders, Rosanne, and Harry Baker. 2010. The apple book. London: Frances Lincoln.

Yepsen, Roger B. 1994. Apples. New York: W.W. Norton.


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