6th Street School plants first Neighborhood Orchard
Silver City, New Mexico, May 2, 2015: 6th Street Elementary School students will soon be enjoying the fruits of their labor after successfully planting the first Neighborhood Orchard at their school last Saturday (April 25, 2015).
“We had family night on Thursday. Our parents toured the garden and new orchard, and they were in awe.” said 6th Street School Principal Lisa Ortega. “It’s a great program that gets the community involved and coming forth to support our students.” Over 50 hours were volunteered by students and community members to plant the 12 different varieties of fruit trees and vines comprising the orchard.
“Fruit was the number one request when I asked students what they wanted in their garden,” said Elena Mitchel, school garden expert and Food Corps member. Mitchel oversees the 6th Street School Garden and Orchard. “They loved helping to pick out what fruits to plant. Grapes and the purple Stanley Plums were the top choices.”
The Neighborhood Orchards Project intends to plant twenty orchards throughout Grant County in the coming years. The orchards will be located in areas with little or no access to existing communal fruit trees or edible plants.
The project was funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Grant County United Way. A coalition of agencies, organizations and municipalities are collaborating on the orchard planting project, which is led by the Grant County Community Health Council.
“It’s only fitting that our first Neighborhood Orchard is located at the first public school in New Mexico,” said Kendra Milligan, who coordinates the project.
New Mexico ranks first in the nation for childhood hunger, according to the Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America, with a child hunger rate of 29 percent, well above the national average of 18 percent.
Mitchel says, “In the garden program the kids learn about nutrition and healthy eating. We had lots of veggies and even some grains in the garden, but we were in need of fruit to provide the garden with examples of this important element of healthy nutrition.”
Town of Silver City Office of Sustainability’s Denise Smith provided education about trees and pruning for the volunteers through a grant from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, “Trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, but produce oxygen. They provide habitat for birds, offer much needed shade, and act as windbreaks and noise barriers. Of course, edible fruit is an added benefit for everyone.”
Mitchel added, “It is a joy to connect and collaborate with people from all over the community, and it is a great lesson for the kids to see people coming together to make something beautiful and good.”
Future Neighborhood Orchard plantings are tentatively schedule for San Lorenzo Elementary School on May 9 and Hurley Elementary School on May 23. For more information on the project call (575) 388-1198 or visit our website at https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodorchard.
The Health Council is composed of 30 members appointed by the Grant County Board of Commissioners. The Council is the designated Health and Wellness Planning Authority for the Grant County Board of Commissioners and supported by Gila Regional Medical Center.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 May 2015 15:40