Does your community have a public orchard?
If not, you are missing out. A public orchard is one of the easiest and best ways to add long term value to your community – even better than a community garden!
Here’s an example:
It’s the Foley community orchard in Vancouver, Washington. This orchard is run by volunteers that gather together the work parties needed to occasionally mulch the trees and harvest the fruit.
As you can see from the size and similarity of the trees, this orchard was a commercial orchard before it was a community orchard.
One of the best aspects of this orchard is its accessibility. It’s well within walking distance of a large number of homes.
Of course, an public orchard needs to grow and evolve beyond the trees left over from the commercial orchard. To do that, the volunteers that run this orchard asked the community for feedback on what fruits people wanted to eat, how it should be grown, and other features.
In terms of the fruit people wanted to see in the orchard, here’s the feedback: Raspberries, blueberries, Cherries, Apples, Kiwi, Table Grapes, Honey Berry, Asian Pear, Persimmon and Paw Paw.
Does this sound like something you want in your community?
PS: Make sure you take a look at May’s Resilient Strategies report. It’s got some amazing techniques for building and maintaining small orchards with the minimum of effort/cost.
PPS: I suspect that Vancouver, WA bought the Foley Orchard to preserve it as an agricultural property (my town does that). Unfortunately, most farms like this are sold as agricultural properties to politically connected commercial developers. These developers sit on the property for a year or two as they work the political process necessary to get the property rezoned for development. When they do: voila! The rezoned property is magically worth ten times what the farmer sold it for. The houses built afterwards aren’t nearly as profitable. Of course, other countries are smarter about this process. In places like Germany and Singapore, the profits from a political rezoning process accrue to the city/town and not to the politically connected developer that wants to rezone the site.