Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna Glovinsky.
Joanna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After I finished graduate school, I started volunteering at Huntington Ranch, a garden that offers a train-the-trainer program for edible garden educators. It was there that I took my first class on fruit tree pruning. On the first day of class, I was the last one to leave. I literally walked away thinking: “I found my thing. I was born to prune.”
Soon I got connected with Fallen Fruit, a group of public artists best known for planting and mapping public fruit trees. When I expressed interest in working for them and asked about their tree mortality rate, they hired me right away as their fruit tree specialist and community manager. I began hosting fruit tree care workshops to do seasonal care for the Fallen Fruit fruit trees in city and county parks, and that’s how I got started teaching.
As part of my job for Fallen Fruit, I had to get two-hundred trees adopted and planted in public space by Chinatown community members who would also agree to take care of them. I went door to door talking to people, looking for caretakers for the trees, and organizing plantings. During that time, it really sunk in that a whole lot of people have questions about fruit trees—and that everybody loves them!
Meanwhile, people were looking to me more and more for tips on how to take care of their fruit trees. I spent countless hours researching on the Internet, and it eventually dawned on me that most of what I found did not make sense in the context of a backyard or home garden. I began to understand that most information about fruit trees is written by orchardists for orchardists. Anyone interested in learning what I was trying to learn had few tools to help them sift through all of the irrelevant information out there. I had an idea then that maybe I could start to change that.
To resolve my frustration, I sought out teachers from every place that I could to help me understand fruit tree care. One of my favorite teachers was an indigenous man from Mexico, an expert avocado grower. He taught me most of what I know about avocados. And he taught me not in scientific terms, but in stories – the way he was taught. As I learned more over time about the underlying science, it both enriched and aligned with what I learned from him.
Fast forward to late 2017. I was pressed for cash, and I thought: “What do I have to offer the world?” I understand and take care of fruit trees, and I realized that there is demand for fruit tree care and education. So I put up a post on NextDoor offering to teach my neighbors how to prune their fruit trees, and the response was beyond my expectation. At the end of the day, I had three clients. At the end of the week, I had seven. Two weeks later, I was fully booked.
Soon I was running around like crazy. I went home to visit family, and I finally had a minute to catch my breath and think about what had just happened: a business had fallen into my lap. I knew that there was no other service in Los Angeles someone could call that specialized in backyard fruit tree care because I had been searching! And that is how the Fruitstitute was born. We’ve been growing ever since.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No road is smooth if it’s leading somewhere worthwhile, but I do feel really lucky. Two years into this business, and it’s clear that the concept sells itself. The results have been astounding. We grow great fruit and happy trees, and all of our clients love what we provide. So that’s helped us push forward because we know we have something good on our hands. As I like to say, the proof is in the fruit!
One of the biggest challenges, however, is that there is no roadmap for something like the Fruitstitute because there are virtually no businesses to model ours after. We essentially mix arboriculture (tree service) and orcharding (commercial fruit production) while working in a landscaping capacity.
And naturally, the day-to-day of running a small business presents significant challenges. But the upside of that is, I feel like I have no choice—this is what I have to do!—which makes some of the daily tasks feel less burdensome.
Fruitstitute – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Fruitstitue is the only fruit tree service operating in Los Angeles County. We take care of our clients’ backyard fruit trees. We provide all the maintenance required to keep the trees healthy and thriving, including planting, feeding, pruning, etc. The majority of our clients are seasonal, so we’re visiting them two to four times per year.
Another mission of the Fruitstitute is to educate the public. We think it’s important to teach people that fruit trees need specialized care. Fruit trees have been designed on orchards, which means you’re not going to find a Meyer lemon in the forest. Because fruit trees have been designed for commercial production as a crop, they’re essentially man-made. They need humans to steward them to be healthy and productive.
The final mission of the company is to teach people about regenerative landscapes. The key ingredient to our success is the compost and wood chip mulch we make in-house. We call it Chocolate Thunder Compost and MulchLove. We teach our clients that growing anything starts with growing your soil. How do you grow soil? Compost, compost, compost. And mulch. Healthy soil increases pest resistance, enhances water retention, regulates temperature, and makes your entire landscape more resilient. The healthier your soil, the healthier your trees, which in turn allows them to pull more nutrients from the soil. In the end, that makes your fruit more nutritious and delicious.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is defined by the fruits of our labor! If there are no lemons in my fruit bowl, we’re not working hard enough.
My team’s support, enthusiasm and commitment is another big indicator of how we’re doing. If people are willing to go the extra mile, support me, support each other, support the company, then I know we’re doing something right.
- All clients start with a consultation, which typically lasts one hour and is priced at $125. During the consultation we assess what your trees need and what you want for your landscape, and then put together a program for care. This process is an important part of the educational mission of the Fruitstitute. It helps our clients understand what their fruit trees need and why, as well as what to expect from our service.
- Website: www.fruitstitute.com
- Phone: 323-707-4598
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @fruitstitute
- Facebook: @fruitstitute
Kat Cheng, Jess Chappe