Under sunny skies this past Saturday, 26 supporters and staff of Milwaukee-based Fondy Food Center gathered to plant and dedicate a new fruit orchard at Fondy’s 80-acre Port Washington farm. The fruit orchard – which consisted of 41 fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, apricot, and cherry) – was won on July 3, 2012 in a on-line, nationwide competition sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars Communities Take Root Program in collaboration with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF).
Fondy was one of 100 agencies nationwide – and the only site in Wisconsin – vying for one of 17 fruit orchards sponsored by the Communities Take Root Program. Winners received fruit trees, an irrigation system, groundbreaking party featuring plenty of Edy’s Fruit Bars, training on organic fruit tree planting and growing methods, and gifts for volunteers. The total value was approximately $5,000. The top 17 winning sites were determined by the number of on-line votes they received between April 16 and August 30, 2012 at the www.communitiestakeroot.com website. Fondy received more than 33,000 user-generated online votes.
Prior to the dedication, Fondy’s Farm Director Stephen Petro and FTFP arborist Rico Montenegro selected the trees and prepared the site, laying out the trees in five neat rows. The trees came from Minor’s Garden Center, Milwaukee. During the dedication Saturday, Montenegro demonstrated how to plant the trees.
Melissa Marasco from Edy‘s Fruit Bars talked about Edy’s commitment to building communities – one orchard at a time – through its national Communities Take Root program. Following Marasco’s comments, Fondy’s executive director, Young Kim emphasized the importance of having affordable, locally grown organic fruit available to families living on Milwaukee North Side and the impact this new orchard will have on the Fondy community – both its farmers and shoppers. Fruit from the orchard will be managed and harvested by Fondy farmers and then sold at the Fondy Farmers Market (2200 W. Fond du Lac Avenue, Milwaukee).
Volunteers were given insulated Edy’s Fruit Bars tote bags, t-shirts, and plenty of Edy’s Fruit Bars to munch on during the planting. Soda was provided by Sprecher Brewing Company. The event started at 11 am. All planting, including laying the irrigation hose and mulching, was completed by 1:30 pm. A seminar on proper growing methods followed. Edy’s Fruit Bars also donated a bench with a commemorative plaque that will be placed within the orchard as a contemplative resting place for orchard visitors.
The apple, pear, and apricot trees will begin bearing fruit about 2-3 years after planting, followed by plums (3-5 years after planting) and then cherries (about 6-7 years after planting).
For more information on the orchard or about Fondy Food Center, please contact Nancy Ketchman, Fondy’s director of development and communications, at 414-562-2282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.