Every year we ask our orchard partners to reflect on the year in the orchard, and to share with us stories about what the orchard is providing for their community. Below are some of our favorites from 2015!
Teens 4 Good
This year, the mulberry tree became a therapist. The teens would use the space under the mulberry tree as a space to get some privacy and talk. If they needed to get a good cry in, to work through things, or have one-on-one conversations, they could utilize the space for that. At one point, some chairs had gone missing, and I found they moved some chairs to create a really nice, comfortable, private space under there. There was a moment where we just started saying, “I need a moment under the mulberry tree.” It became code for needing space and time and privacy. When I was a kid going through something, I went and sat in the woods. Oddly enough, I realized that corner is similar to that for these teens.
–Drew Gold, 8th and Poplar Farmer
Walnut Hill Community Farm
Almost every day I am out there, someone from the community walks up and asks questions about the farm. They are always blown away by the fruit in the orchard. Some people have never seen fruit growing on trees, some people get brought back to their childhood and share stories about their grandmothers peach tree, and some people are just shocked that the orchard exists in an urban area. Seeing the joy that the trees bring to the individuals who approach shows me how important the work of bringing food to the city is for the community as well as the environment. Being able to bring someone to a state of wonder is a very powerful and valuable quality.
–Carly Freedman, Manager
Greener Partners at Guild House West
This summer our WorkReady interns were obsessed with the peaches. Each week they would go out to the orchard and feel the peaches to see if any were ready. Finally, during the last week of July, the peaches were ripe! In the span of a week, they harvested 48 pounds of peaches! Most were donated to the seniors at Guild House West, though the youth also got to enjoy them and bring them home to share with their families.
–Ari Rosenberg, Farm Co-Manager
Historic Fair Hill
We planted seven beautiful blueberry bushes on this year’s POP Orchard Day. In the months leading up to the planting, we spent a long time preparing the soil for these acid-loving Pine Barrens dwellers, desodding and amending the area with sand and pine needles. The day of, we were very thorough with the planting, watering, and mulching of our new berry bushes. Afterward, I was talking with the father of one of our Youth Farmers as we admired our hard work, and I explained to him that we won’t get any fruit from these bushes for three years or so. At first, that seemed to both of us to be an unthinkably long amount of time to reap the bounty of months of effort, but then I told him that strong blueberry bushes in proper conditions can produce fruit for decades–60 years or more! “So,” I said, in a moment of epiphany, “If we keep taking care of these bushes, there’s a good chance that your son will be able to harvest blueberries with his grandchildren.” Our sweat and blisters suddenly seemed very much worth it.
–Brianna Barton, Gardens Manager
Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School
Our orchard is a place where curiosity grows, is nurtured and celebrated. Like a flock of birds chirping, I hear a chorus of “What’s that?!” and see wide open eyes when I tell them that the funny-looking little green knobs on those branches are going to be pears, or that the small, greenish brown, unappealing blobs over here are called figs and actually taste something like soft honey. Our students find amazement and fun every time they come into our garden orchard–a safe haven where children can be free to learn.
–Victoria Mehl, Garden Manager