Public spaces should be planted out with edible things, I have always insisted. And now here is a community park and garden in Bloomington Indiana that did just that very thing! Here is a bit about the Community Orchard written by Ross Gay:
It’s easy enough for me to remember this orchard, with its numerous varieties of 100 or so fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears, plums, paw paw, cherries, jujubes, figs, and more) and equal number of fruit bushes, vines, and flowers, as little more than a flat expanse of mowed grass. A few years ago, it was just a dead zone between a park and the road beyond it.
But the community dreamed of an orchard available for all, where if there were a fence (which there is, for we have deer a’plenty), it would never keep a person out. At this orchard, the beautiful hand-wrought gate has no lock: Everyone’s welcome.
Of course the orchard began — as much as we can say a thing begins — with a young woman thinking about food security, which simply means having regular access to safe, nutritious food.
Many individuals and communities around the world suffer from a lack of food security, for all kinds of reasons. One is an under-utilization of productive, food-growing space. In other words, we need to reconsider where gardens and farms and orchards might exist.
Amy Countryman researched the Indiana city’s urban canopy — its managed trees — to find out how much of it produced food. Less than 2 percent, it turns out. So she suggested we do something about that.
When she approached Bloomington’s forester with her proposal for a free fruit-for-all community orchard from which the harvest would go to whoever needed some, he quickly jumped on board and secured for the project an acre plot of land and some seed money.
Large community meetings followed, committees were formed, and the hard work of building the dream began: remediating the soil, building compost, securing grants, designing the site, selecting trees, and more.