A New Grant
City Fruit has just been awarded a grant from the Department of Natural Resources to develop a community stewardship program to care for fruit trees on community-owned properties, such as parks, community gardens, schools, and other community areas.
Fruit Trees on Public Land
There are a ton of fruit trees on public property – more than 30 Seattle parks have fruit trees. Parks like Carkeek, Othello, and Martha Washington have extensive orchards with some good specimens. And there are other parks that have planted several fruit trees (mini-orchards) as part of other edible landscaping projects – such as the Linden Orchard P-Patch and Bradner Gardens.
While these trees are of value to the community, their maintenance and care are often times more labor-intensive than non-edible trees. And typically the civic landscaping budgets cannot cover the costs of the pruning, managing pests, harvesting fruit, etc. So we’ve been talking with the Seattle Parks Department to figure out how to better care and nurture these trees, harvest and use the fruit, and not negatively impact the bottom line. This project is our attempt to create a model by which we can make that a reality.
About the Project
The project has three main objectives:
- Create and pilot test a curriculum and training program on fruit tree care for lay gardeners
- Develop a sustainable, volunteer-based model for the care of fruit trees on public properties
- Recruit and train 12 – 15 volunteers interested in fruit tree management, using them to evaluate the training curriculum and the stewardship model
We’re really using Seattle’s successful Forest Steward program (a project of the Green Seattle Partnership) as a blueprint – that project builds on volunteers’ desires to work with others to improve the urban landscape. Fruit tree stewards will be responsible for winter and summer pruning, thinning of fruit, recruiting community volunteers to harvest fruit, picking up dropped fruit, summer watering, and basic pest management. The goal is to place at least two stewards per park, with each making a two-year commitment to their orchard. (In the future, stewards can be rotated so that experienced orchard stewards are paired with new ones.)
By the end of this project, volunteers will ‘adopt’ the fruit trees in 4 – 5 public parks. Through collaboration between public agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and the volunteers themselves, the project will create a mechanism through which a fruit tree stewardship program can be sustained over the long-term. Such a model could easily be adapted by other communities interested in preserving this resource but lacking public monies to do so.
To Participate & More Info
If you’re interested in becoming one of the fruit tree stweards or have questions about our new project, e-mail email@example.com.