When it comes to addressing the needs of food deserts in Charlotte, planting a community orchard feels right on target. But as anybody who has tried to grow fruit trees knows, it’s not easy. Thankfully, we’ve come up with the recipe for the perfect orchard, which we proudly accomplished at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church on Beatties Ford Road this fall:
Dietary experts from the Mecklenburg County Health Department
Fruit tree experts from the N.C. Cooperative Extension
Church with visionary, enthusiastic leaders and a good chunk of land
Lots of volunteers
Hearty post-planting lunch
1. Have all partners meet months in advance for strategy session.
2. Come up with shopping list. Place order.
3. Meet another half dozen times in the months to keep on track.
4. Sign up church volunteers, lots of them.
5. Week of the event: Get utility lines marked, deliver trees and shovels, pray for sunshine.
6. Morning of event: Auger holes, set up tables for lunch, get sound system pumping with inspiring tunes.
7. Gather all volunteers and partners, pray together, give thanks.
8. Have expert from Extension Service run tree-planting clinic.
9. Plant away! (This is the really fun part)
10. Water deeply.
11. Eat together and gaze upon a morning of hard work done.
12. Over the next many months: Water, sun, repeat. Enjoy fruits of your labor for years to come.