2016 Year End Appeal

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
 John Muir, Naturalist

Make an online donation here.

Dear friend of Earthroots,

Kids and families have an even greater need in current times — a connection with nature that yields a place of healing, a generous gift of strength to body and soul. As many of us know from first-hand experience, our lives are indeed filled when spending time in nature. “A good dose of Vitamin N,” says a friend of her children’s greatest need each day. I couldn’t agree more.


As I look back on the past year of nature connections and changes at Earthroots, I am filled with gratitude. Your generosity has brought a year of positive growth in 2016! At summer’s end, your contributions hosted 109 days of programming and served 707 people – overall you delivered 10,803 hours in nature! What a gift to these children and adults, investing their lives. Field Trips to Big Oak Canyon, Forest Kindergarten, Homeschool Field Classes, and Eco-Literacy programs are all going strong.  I’m excited to report that our Toddlers in the Garden class has been revived this fall, where children ages 1-3 years are planting seeds, eating what they grow each week, and enjoying meaningful experiences in nature.

But…. We have work to do! The need today is great. Even after overcoming the hurdles of getting outside, children in natural settings around Orange County unknowingly come into contact with toxic chemicals, parents may be unsure how to guide their children in families don’t always know where to go for authentic experiences.

The Forest Kindergarten program experienced one of our biggest changes over the last year. We learned with concern that, in accordance with OC Parks policies, the parks where our children were playing and exploring during class had been regularly sprayed with herbicide Round Up. Working with park rangers, we moved from from one area of the park to another, with an agreement that they would reduce spraying the area where our children play. In partnership and gratitude, we agreed to assist with weed abatement. Kids and parents donned gloves and pulled weeds to help the cause.

Your help is needed for a long-term solution to overcome these kinds of challenges, and to ensure that your children can enjoy experiences in nature without the threat of toxic exposure, while families gain skills to be comfortable outdoors. Together, we can lift the lives of kids and families with the vitality of deep nature connection.

The collaboration between OC Parks and Earthroots brought temporary relief. For the ideal long-term solution to supporting our children and future groups of kids who will participate in Forest Kindergarten, I turn my thoughts to Earthroots’ beautiful, 39-acre property in the Santa Ana Mountains, Big Oak Canyon.

Our community has an opportunity here to create a turning point away from common and careless destructive environmental practices, and inspire youth with positive, beautiful, regenerative living practices and education. These experiences will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Big Oak Canyon is a dedicated place to inspire us all, especially the youth, in ways of living in balance with the earth. It is free from herbicide spraying guidelines, and overflows with opportunity for nature exploration and conservation. There are meaningful projects to grow and tend local gardens and orchards, create water conservation systems, and explore creeks that are CLEAN! The free flowing water is teeming with frogs, mud and invitations for barefoot creek stomping.

Your support will foster a 200-year vision for Big Oak Canyon, creating a world where everyone has access and deepening connections with nature. With your help, Big Oak will become financially secure and carefully developed; a place where students, visitors, staff and resident caretakers will have incredible opportunities to further our community’s relationship with nature.

Much of the land in Orange County is purchased for development contrary to ecological best-practices. Studies prove that direct experience in nature is a vital human need, even while time spent outdoors is diminishing at a shocking pace. Approximately 85% of land in Orange County is developed, a stark reality that compelled Earthroots to partner with you to purchase Big Oak Canyon in 2012.  We are protecting this valuable resource for future generations. Though Orange County was originally named for the vast acres of orange groves, most are now obsolete.

At Big Oak Canyon, we are reviving native habitats; we plan to grow food in our organic farm and orchard, and be a model for non-toxic building practices. Orchards will serve the community as an educational working farm, and wilderness areas will model land stewardship and ecological restoration. Hands-on classes, camps and workshops will be held year-round. Natural and sustainable living practices will be utilized, and taught so that all who come will see and experience first-hand living in balance with nature.

When the prospect of purchasing Big Oak Canyon came about, it was with equal parts business savvy and serendipity that we decided to move forward with the purchase. We knew that the road might be difficult — we had never raised this significant sum of money before. But we also knew that we had built a community in Orange County that depends on us to keep nature connections a prominent part of schooling options. And we knew that it would be this very community and beyond that we would need to lean on to help secure the land.

We come to you, as a member of the Earthroots Community, to ask you to consider a gift to secure this special place — make this vision a reality. This is our final push to complete the purchase of Big Oak Canyon. Together, we have raised $95,000 of the necessary $160,000, and need to raise the remaining $65,000. We invite you to be a part of the transformation of this land into a place that will “heal and give strength to body and soul”.

On behalf of the kids and families, I thank you for your thoughtful consideration of a generous gift to Earthroots this year. Make an online donation here.

In gratitude,

Jodi Levine-Wright
Founding Director
Earthroots Field School