Anyone who has a garden, park or orchard tree has an opportunity to ensure that it offers protection, brings beauty and bears fruit for future generations.
In short, every one of us should aspire to be a forester”
― Gabriel Hemery
Once upon a time I had a crazy dream to start an urban orchard in my neighborhood park.
The idea sparked after someone stole all the peaches off a tree in my front yard.
I tried to be furious but it was food.
And the desire for fresh fruit is one I feel keenly.
How can I be angry at someone hungry?
Rather than stew in annoyance and frustration I decided to embrace a different attitude.
I started thinking way outside the box.
What if there was seasonal fruit available for community access?
How could I help make that happen?
I’d start an local orchard in the park across from my home where I could grow plenty of fruit to share.
Because why the hell not?
If not me, then who?
What’s the worst that could happen vs what good could come of it?
There were plenty of inspiring stories from other city orchard projects all over the world.
Places like London, Seattle, Philadelphia, Mexico City.
So in March of 2014 I planted the first 13 on the sly, guerrilla garden style,
(First 3,then 4 more and boldly 6!)
Hoping no one would notice or protest.
But someone did.
And someone reported me. (Who does that!?)
The city came rapping on my door to tell me I needed a permit.
And surprised and shocked me by writing one right then and there.
It went something like this...
Knock knock knock
“Hi. Can I help you?”
“I’ve been notified you’ve been planting in the park. You do realize you can’t just do that?”
“Ohhhhh. What happens now?”
”You need to get a permit”
“Oh. Ok. How do I go about getting that?”
“In your case, I write you one. Right now. “
And he did.
Suddenly I had permission to plant up to 200 fruit and nut trees.
I proceeded to buy and plant any fruit or nut tree hardy and productive in Zone 5 that I could find
I lost my mind for the next several months and went buck wild.
I spent our vacation fund for the year, all of our mad money and everything in the change jars.
And with some priceless free labor from friends my urban orchard exploded.
Adding up receipts and expenses and totals from my first round of “I’m going to plant an Orchard” in 2014 was more than a bit financially mind-boggling.
I spent approximately $10,000 my own money.
My own free labor and others in excess of 2500 work hours and the willingness of strong arms to create something significant and lasting.
I also have been in the park every year since 2014-present working on continual care for the orchard.
I’ve lost track of all the small purchases and work hours put in over the past five years since the initial planting frenzy.
As each year came and went I realized I had a legitimate, viable orchard growing.
I needed to start thinking ahead to what’s next.
So I created a 10 year plan for my orchard with it ultimately being turned over and integrated into the city wide community gardens network.
Phase One -2014
My mad dash orchard idea explodes and suddenly I’m working and planting spontaneously, on the fly.
I had no idea if this was inspiration or insanity.
Funded 100% by me and the gracious free labor of friends.
2500 work hours for free doing everything from planting to hauling water and mulch.
Phase Two +5 years 2019/now.
Build a GoFundMe to crowd source monetary resources to plant a second round of trees as well as the purchase of an inexpensive work truck to help with labor and hauling work for orchard maintenance. Funds to cover addition material and labor as necessary.
Phase Three +10 years 2024.
Unite and Co-ordinate with local community garden and permaculture nonprofits to fund raise through grants to set in the motion the continued use and upkeep of the orchard for decades to come.
I’ve put my own time, money, energy, hopes and dreams into this project.
I said if in five years it was growing successfully I’d reach out and ask for help for continuing to build it for the future.
That time is now.
Five years later there are 84 trees growing and thriving from the initial 156.
Some might be discouraged by the diminished remainder but I’m not.
This is a free range, open community orchard.
The city was willing to give me permission to plant but is unable to provide resources for its future growth and protection.
The trees growing in the park are strong and healthy.
Orchards are a long term love affair.
But in the years to come there will be a bountiful harvest.
The nitty gritty details.
Starting March 2019 as soon as I can plant.
Fund raise $25,000
Purchase and plant 100-115 new trees
with a budget of approximately $100-125 per tree
Being able to buy better trees significantly increases the tree survival and success
Purchase a used dependable work truck for orchard work
$5000 or less
My previous truck, the Mighty Shiny Bob (Dodge Dakota 2003) died in a tragic hit and run.
I need a replacement in order to effectively take on my next stage orchard and garden work for this and coming years.
The cost I budgeted for a truck out of the campaign is $5000. 20% of the total.
Plus all additional supplies;
-top dressing with amended soil
-labor if necessary
These are hard to budget in concrete numbers until I see how many trees are actually planted.
Phase Three 2024. The Future is still being planted.
This is my passion project.
This is me being the change I want to be in the world.
This is committing to building something that I hope will last long after I’m gone.
I’m 50 years old in April and I’m asking for all of you to share just a little to make something beautiful for all of us.
The time is now.
Let’s do this!
Please feel free to message me with anything about this project you might like to discuss. email@example.com@gmail.com
My amazing partner, spouse, cheerleader and soul supporter Larry Ferguson has believed in me every step of the way on this project. So much thanks. He makes everything better together.
My amazing friend Alzuri who planted the vast majority of those trees with me in 2014.
You are priceless and irreplaceable in every way.
I’ll be sharing and posting additional information, photos and progress as often as possible.
How can I love you if you won’t let me feed you?