Spotlight on: Robby Astrove of Atlanta, GA

April 29, 2014

We are so excited to bring you the next installment in our Citizen Farmer profile series on Robby Astrove: an arborist, educator, organizer and musician too!


Robby Astrove is an environmental educator, fruit tree arborist, and community organizer living in Atlanta Georgia.  As an environmental educator and naturalist for over 10 years, Robby works with nature centers, non-profit organizations, and local business to connect our community with local sustainable food, nature, and each other. 
Robby finds creative ways to connect people to food at farmers markets, food festivals, urban garden and farms, through organized foraging picks with Concrete Jungle of Atlanta, and fruit tree walking tours.  Robby coordinates the ALFI Orchard Project for the last five years and establishes orchards at schools, parks, and community gardens.  He’ll plant anywhere like libraries, fire stations, urban farms, along streets, and in vacant lots. 
Robby advises and provides council to local non-profits and is a member of the City of Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission.  He works with teams of farmers, teachers, and food advocates to provide recommendations and consultation to school boards, city council, and other decision makers who can champion the local food movement.   Through experiential education and community engagement, fruit trees are seeding the next crop of citizen farmers.

What is your favorite fruit or nut tree?

Serviceberry is my favorite.  This small native tree is perhaps the most underutilized and under appreciated native fruit tree out there.  Why I have no idea…. It’s beautiful with dainty spring flowers, plentiful with delicious and berries in summer, and shows off again in fall with striking fall color. Serviceberry is a super food high in anti-oxidants and pretty unknown.  The flowers and fruit are valuable to wildlife, birds, and other pollinators and birds. This tree or shrub is found all over North America and also goes by the name Saskatoon, juneberry, or shadberry. 


What is the easiest fruit tree crop to grow?

We asked Robby to add to the Citizen Farmers’ Top 10 Edible and Medicinal Perennials to Replace Landscape Ornamentals. These are great edible perennials that can provide food and medicine year after year. Without a moment’s hesitation, he chose figs.

Robby: Figs! They are tough in the urban environment; they get huge and have very high yields– sometimes delivering a summer and a fall crop of delicious figs, and are one of the few fruit trees you can take cuttings from and start a new tree.  Once established, fruit trees are the easiest crops to grow as they require very little maintenance.  Figs are not strongly associated with insects and disease problems.   Figs are enjoyed fresh or can be processed in preserves, ice cream, etc.  You will always be sharing your figs because you will have absolute abundance with figs.

How are you growing community through agriculture?

I never work alone when food is involved.  Each time we plant, harvest, cook, and celebrate food abundance, we do it together as a community and find value in our collective efforts.


Learn more about a project close to Robby’s heart, the Atlanta Local Food Initiative

Robby has created an excellent guide of Recommended School Orchard Trees and Orchard Packages.

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