“When it’s cherry blossom time in Orange, New Jersey, we’ll make a peach of a pear.”
While those corny lyrics from the old Danny Kaye show may not be familiar to a majority of Friday’s volunteers, it perfectly outlines the variety of fruits that will be growing in Historic Northeast’s newest orchard of 50 trees planted in Maple Park, across The Paseo from Cliff Drive’s Gate 1.
Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG) and The Giving Grove teamed up with Jerusalem Farm, Kanbe’s Markets, Love Tito’s Block to Block program and the City’s Parks & Recreation Department to plant 50 fruit and nut trees in the park to provide free and healthy produce to the surrounding community.
Jerusalem Farm will be the steward of the orchard, said Jordan Schiele, Project Director.
“We’ll be pruning, harvesting, watering, just making sure the trees stay alive,” Schiele said. “This is positive park programming so we’re going to try and engage local residents so that they can just come out and harvest whenever the fruit is ready a year or so from now.”
Fruit trees planted include apple, cherry, peach, Asian and European pear trees, along with pecan trees. The earliest fruit is expected to be ready for harvest after next year’s growing season.
Trip Cobb with Love Tito’s, the philanthropic arm of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, was thrilled to be part of the partnership that’s bringing fresh foods to the community.
“We’re excited to be working alongside these amazing community non-profit organizations and volunteers to help create these wonderful green spaces,” Cobb said.
Ameila Rouyer, Jerusalem Farm’s new Farm Manager, will be doing the follow up heavy lifting in terms of watering, pruning and weekly care for the newly planted orchard.
“We’re planting the seed for something where we’re not going to see the fruit of it today, but we’ll see the fruit of it for years to come,” Rouyer said. “There’s something really beautiful about that and seeing people come together, knowing that we couldn’t do this individually, but when we come together and combine our energy, we can make something big happen, like a community orchard.”
Following a planting lesson from Matt Bunch of KCCG, the roughly 100 volunteers spent the rest of the day making sure the newly planted trees were ready for the hot, Midwestern summer.
The City’s Housing Authority will be providing the water for the trees and an irrigation system will be installed in order to make the watering process more efficient.