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This story is part of the Cities + Solutions series, which chronicles surprising and inspiring climate initiatives in communities across the U.S. through stories of cities leading the way. For more solutions stories like these, subscribe to the Looking Forward newsletter.

Standing under a shady tree drooping with pomegranates late last year, Brad Simmons, a retired metal fabricator who has lived in Healdsburg, California, for 57 years, showed off his backyard orchard. Along with the apple, cherry, and peach trees, he’s packed one pear tree, two lemon trees, and a century-old olive tree into his bungalow’s compact garden.

Of course, the small grove requires plenty of water — an increasingly scarce resource in a state that continues grappling with a historic drought despite recent torrential rains. Yet Simmons, like many of his fellow 12,000 residents, has managed to keep much of this wine country community north of San Francisco looking verdant while slashing the city’s water use in half since 2020.

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