We were just 3 people who each wanted to make a difference in their own way.
Philip was learning everything he could about changing behavior using social marketing at the environmental firm, S. Groner Associates (SGA). He was looking for a way to avoid the failings of development projects (including his own) that provided technical solutions and education, without addressing the human elements upon which real change depends.
Ruth was a newly-minted pediatrician who wanted her patients to follow through with the lifestyle changes needed to improve their health. This required her to go beyond diagnosing problems and giving prescriptions, and led her to find a better way, not covered in her medical training.
Adam, trained in law and business, had abilities in administration and process improvement that could form the backbone of a strong yet nimble organization. While he was already doing this for SGA, where he and Philip first met, he also wanted to do this for a nonprofit organization -- where the only bottom line was impact.
In the spring of 2014, we began meeting on Monday nights in Long Beach, over meals cooked from Philip and Ruth's home garden with their dog, Gravy, in attendance. We took our time figuring out the values we shared and where we wanted to apply ourselves. The environment... health... children... developing communities... making impact... suddenly it struck us. We would focus on food, and the biggest issue of our time: child nutrition.
Appleseed seeks to improve what children eat.
We are a team of professionals. We live and work to serve others, and impact is our bottom line. We are listeners, constantly and curiously exploring the cultures and the world around us. With understanding, we can inspire others to adopt the choices and actions that improve child nutrition in the places that need it most.
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.
While our team may be spread out around the world, home for Appleseed is where it all began: Long Beach, California.