Worcester Receives a TD Green Streets Grant to plant Community Orchard in Piedmont Neighborhood!
Tuesday, May 27, at 2:30 PM, Congressman James P. McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, and City Manager Ed Augustus will celebrate the planting of 20 fruit trees at the newly established Community Orchard at 9 Jaques Ave, Worcester. This project is made possible through a generous TD Green Streets grant.
Worcester Tree Initiative staff, volunteers from TD Bank, refugee farmers from Bhutan, and New Lands Farm staff will work together beginning at 10:00 AM to plant several varieties of semi-dwarf fruit trees at the site, including peaches, pears, plums, cherries and apples, thus taking the first step at establishing the newest EAT center in Worcester.
“Every person in this country should have access to locally grown, healthy food,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “I am thrilled to see fruit trees being planted in the Piedmont neighborhood and peach, pear and apple trees added to the already vibrant community gardening program in Worcester.”
The Jaques Ave Community Orchard project is a partnership of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Worcester Common Ground, Lutheran Social Services/New Lands Farm project, and City of Worcester and builds on a model launched in 2011 on Oread Place known as the Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center. The EAT center partnership includes the Regional Environmental Council.
Yvette Dyson, Executive Director of Worcester Common Ground, the property owner notes that “from a partnership perspective we all believe in land preservation and the cultivation of produce for the people we serve in Central MA. Securing these parcels [at 7/9 Jaques Ave] will help to eliminate trash problems, and eventually provide fruit and produce for farmers/neighbors to grow, feed their families and sell”.
The City of Worcester was awarded a TD Green Streets grant in the amount of $19,380 to create the orchard and has contracted with The Worcester Tree Initiative to implement the project. . A large portion of the funds will be used to purchase the trees, fence the lot, and pay for interpreters to work with the Bhutanese farmers who will care for the fruit trees over the long term.
Peggy Middaugh, Executive Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative notes that “we have given away and planted over 5,500 trees in the past 5 years, and lately more and more residents have expressed an interest in growing fruit trees. We’re very excited to expand our urban forestry efforts to include the food producing beneifs of trees”!. The Worcester Tree Initiative will continue to provide support to the refugee farmers for the care of the trees by providing tools, skills building workshops and hiring interpreters.
The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) was launched in January 2009 by Congressman Jim McGovern and Lt. Governor Tim Murray as a positive response to the devastation caused by the infestation and eradication of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). In the past 5 years, over 5,500 trees have been planted and thousands of residents, school children and community members mobilized to become stewards of the urban forest.
The Jaques Ave Community Orchard is the 2nd EAT center in Worcester and the first to include fruit trees.
The Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center was launched in 2011 as a joint partnership of the REC, Lutheran Social Services, Worcester Common Ground and the City of Worcester Mayor’s Office.
A pilot initiative, the EAT Center seeks to utilize undeveloped tax levy parcels in the city of Worcester that are suitable for agriculture by transferring ownership to this partnership for a nominal cost. Community members, including recently arrived refugees with an agricultural background identified by Lutheran Social Services (Worcester’s largest refugee resettlement agency), are provided an opportunity to receive training on urban agriculture and an opportunity to grow produce on a larger scale than is otherwise available via the REC’s community gardens network.