The Urban Food Forest Corridor 

There was a time when Houston’s East End thrived with a young forest.  The video below depicts the reaction of Furr High School sophomore and Green Ambassador, Emerson Hernandez, to a photograph from 1941 of Stephen F. Austin High School.  The yearbook he holds allows others to see a glimpse of the green forest which once surrounded SFA High School.

Stephen F. Austin High School was established in 1937 in the East End of Houston.  This photo, from the school’s 1941 yearbook, shows how urban forests can contribute to Houston’s biodiversity.

When you drive through Houston’s East End neighborhoods you will see beautiful Oak and other shade trees cast their shadow on the street.  You will also find many gardens of all sorts; from potted plants and herbs to fruit tres.  Common to see are Maple, orange, lemon, grapefruit, banana and loquat trees.

Many of us from the community have been intrigued by science, nature and the environment through individuals who engaged us as youth to make a difference through action. As kids we played and ventured to the outdoors; exploring, wandering, and seeking to discover and learn something new and interesting.

Over a 100 fruit trees have been planted at Houston local schools.  Many of our schools offer free or reduced lunch, and some schools provide free lunch to 100% of their student population.  The mission to create an edible food forest corridor, which provides food for both wildlife and residents, it is a goal we have set to accomplish.  Through conservation efforts, we can learn to thrive in a sustainable community for years to come.

The opportunity to enhance our schools and community with fruit trees has been an amazing journey. One of our primary partners is the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) whose goal is to collectively plant 18 billion fruit trees for a healthy planet (approximately 3 for every person alive). Fruit trees heal the environment by cleaning the air, improving soil quality, preventing erosion, creating wildlife habitat, conserving valuable water resources, and providing healthy nutrition. 

Key individuals who spark inspiration to create an edible corridor in the East End are students, parents, principals, volunteers, teachers and elders. We wish to unite forces with others who are like-minded and wish to empower Houston.  

A Tribute to the Spirit of Abiel Montalvo Acuna 

In early April of 2014, the community was stricken and silent of words. The momentum of greening Houston East End schools was in full force and the community was coming together for a cause to benefit all. Suddenly, one of our soldiers received a call for another duty. Abiel Montalvo Acuna blessed us with a legacy and it will never be forgotten. His energy, his smile and his adventurous outlook on life is inspiring to us all.

He was "the active student" you read about, striving to keep busy and to do good for his family and community. While attending Stephen F. Austin High School, he took the opportunity to engage with JROTC, HCC programs, Science Club, Project Learning Tree GreenSchools!, C-STEM Robotics, Baseball, DREAM, INTERACT, and was an active Green Ambassador of the Houston Greenbelt.

During the winter of 2013, the first days the community and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation gathered to plant fruit trees at Austin High School and Lantrip Elementary, Abiel was there with a shovel in his hand, eager to get started. His legacy of dedication and commitment is the energy that unifies the movement. He is a member of a family of who carries pride, honor and love for our community. His passing has highlighted the value and positive direct impact our youth have in our communities.

His memory and light lives on in an Olive and Mexican plum tree memorial planted in his memory in the garden of Austin High School. The hands of his mother and father, planted the trees as the community and student body gathered to celebrate his life. The trees will continue to remind us all of the love and dedication that Abiel shared with his fellow Green Ambassadors in the quest to improve his campus and his community in making healthier, safer and greener places to live. Abiel was dedicated and committed to change through action, and he was active and engaged with the community. Abiel has planted the seed of change in the East End of Houston.

In 2014, Lantrip Blooms, initiated the Abiel Montalvo Acuna Memorial Scholarship for graduating seniors who share the same ambition and commitment as Abiel did for his community and the planet.

In commemoration and inspiration of Abiel, the spirit of the monarch butterfly is invoked. The migration of the monarch butterfly symbolizes the fallen warriors and their journey home. Our team plants milkweed for Abiel so that his Monarch butterfly spirit can continue to migrate between his families in Texas and Mexico.  As the butterfly represents, one may go through a time of darkness, but yet emerge with such beauty and soar in the bright skies for new beginnings.

The East End is greatly honored to have been able to spend time and energy with such a wonderful and beautiful person like Abiel. He will forever be in our hearts and the fuel to our spirits. The trees which he helped established in the East End will thrive for generations to come and provide bountiful harvest for the community. As of now, there are over one hundred fruit trees planted in the community. His energy, his legacy, is a thriving force in the Houston Greenbelt movement and will forever flourish.

The honorable and noble Sonic Boom was able to provide a soothing therapeutic experience during the vigil held at Austin. The sound, the vibe and collectiveness of love and healing united those who gathered. 

Read More:

Read more information of 2013's winter planting by clicking here.