“I get to plant a tree that a child could someday take shade under, play on, breathe easier, and eat fresh fruit because of it? Sign me up! ”
-Tony Dorman, 2015 Golden Persimmon Volunteer
In honor of the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we’re looking back at a different year in our history every month. We’re also designating Golden Persimmon Awards for each year in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers.
POP VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT: Tony Dorman
Tony Dorman first volunteered with POP in 2014 and is a dedicated member of POP’s Orchard Committee. He serves as the lead orchard liaison for Tilden Middle School, Bartram High School, and Philadelphia Montessori Charter School. Read more about Tony in his previous volunteer highlight post.
My participation with POP began with a desire to help children; thankfully, that has been a theme of sorts during my time with POP. The first time I volunteered at a POP activity was at Bartram’s Garden (a hidden jewel of Philadelphia; please stop by there when you can) because the activity description said in part, “Come help us clean the garden and plant a fruit tree.” The plant a tree part got to me. I get to plant a tree that a child could someday take shade under, play on, breathe easier, and eat fresh fruit because of it? Sign me up!
When I was six or seven years old, there was a popular PSA depicting a Native American looking over a landfill as a single tear rolls down his cheek. I remember thinking, “When I get older, there’s gonna be trash everywhere!” POP’s mission is an extremely important one to me. Not only do the orchards transform neglected areas into those of beauty, the orchards create mini ecosystems that help to physically renew the areas that they’re in. Without the orchards, these areas would be that less livable. POP’s orchards are truly a boon and a blessing.
I was quite happy when Phil asked me to be an orchard liaison to two schools, especially since one was on the same street where I lived; an urban area that is rife with trash and seemingly uncaring neighbors. That school had started to implement programs to improve student life; I think that their acquiring an orchard helped greatly with that process and Tilden Middle School is now a designated Community School with a direct connection the mayor’s office (in fact, Mayor Kinney planted a tree at the school during POP’s last work day there). I don’t think that volunteering in a classroom would have nearly the impact that planting an orchard has. Watching students interact with the orchard and garden or teach other students garden facts is quite moving and profound. That gives me hope that one day, “there won’t be trash everywhere” and Philadelphia will be a beautiful, bountiful city for all!
SUPPORT US! If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards. org/donate.