Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.
— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Our Story

Appleseed began as a passion project. Philip and Adam had seen the power of changing behavior through their work at an environmental social marketing firm and were yearning to apply their knowledge in an nonprofit context. Ruth, a newly-minted pediatrician, was passionate about finding ways to help her patients improve their health that went beyond diagnosing and writing prescriptions.

On Monday nights, the trio (plus Philip and Ruth’s dog Gravy) would share home cooked meals and discuss the different ways they hoped to make a difference in the world. After mulling over issues that resonated with them—the environment, health, children, developing communities—they realized that the most important issue tying it all together was on the table right in front of them: food! Thus, Appleseed set out to tackle the biggest social issue of our time: child malnutrition.


Appleseed's mission is to improve what children eat in the places that need it most.


The Appleseed founding team and significant others at our first annual retreat in Ojai, California.

The Appleseed founding team and significant others at our first annual retreat in Ojai, California.

Today, Appleseed has outgrown Philip and Ruth’s kitchen in Long Beach, California, but we’ve maintained the same passion that sparked our journey. Leaning on our strong social marketing background and drawing on our founding team’s roots in communications and pediatric medicine, we have created an agency model that is unique in the developing world.

Our team works remotely from field offices around the world and home offices in the United States. Though we're rarely all in one place, what keeps us connected is our desire to live and work to serve others, with impact as our bottom line.



Why the name Appleseed?

Our namesake, Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer who became a folk legend. He dreamed no one would ever go hungry, so he traveled the frontier planting apple nurseries, which he returned to tend, year after year. Eventually, many towns rose on his nursery sites.

Most remember him as an eccentric story-telling nomad who foraged off the land and enjoyed the hospitality of frontier families. Many forget he was also a careful and strategic businessman. He methodically selected nursery sites, planted seeds, and returned at regular intervals to repair fences, tend the land, and sell his trees, for which he charged only what circumstances allowed for each customer. Despite having financial success, he chose to live simply, in nature, and among the poor. He was also a fine communicator who befriended Native Americans, spoke their languages, and helped avert trouble between tribes and incoming settlers.  His kindness made him welcome anywhere in the frontier. Ultimately, what we most admire is he lived to serve others.

While we aren't planning on getting into the apple business any time soon, we see our work and our values to be aligned with Johnny's. Each new project is like a seedling that, with care, will someday grown into a tree. We carefully select our partners and projects, which we tend to each year until we are no longer needed. We don't charge our partners for our services, since most community-based organizations have limited resources. We seek to work and live simply, in nature, and among the poor. We've been gifted with the freedom to go anywhere, the ability to speak multiple languages, and skills that can make a difference wherever we go. So it is our duty and our privilege, like it was for Johnny Appleseed, to walk between worlds and serve the communities who welcome us.