Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

First spring pruning occurs at Adams Grove Community Orchard

Posted on 24 April 2017 by calvin


A spring pruning day was held on Sun., Mar. 26 at Adams Grove Community Orchard. The orchard was planted by community members last year and is located in the Adams Triangle Park at 4101 Minnehaha Ave. S.

Neighborhood resident Trevor Russell lives just down the street from the new orchard. “I had walked and biked past the park hundreds of times thinking that this empty, grass-covered space was just a failure of imagination. I knew we could do better,” he said.

Community Orchard 2017 16Photo right: Jared Walhowe (left) demonstrated how to prune a fruit tree. He explained, “About 1/3 of a tree’s live wood should be pruned each year. We prune for the future, directing the branches so that they can support their fruit optimally.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Using funds from the City of Minneapolis’ Urban Agriculture Activity Plan, Russell brought his dream of a community orchard to fruition. Of the 34 trees planted there (including apple, plum, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, and serviceberry), Russell said, “In years one and two, our goal was to keep them alive.”

With the help of a team of volunteers watering and mulching last summer, the trees have done more than just survive—they have prospered.

Pruning improves tree health and increases fruit yields while making the orchard easier to care for and to harvest. Jared Walhowe, of the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Food Healthy Lives Institute, has been a partner in creating the orchard from the beginning.

On pruning day he demonstrated pruning techniques for volunteers. “Early spring is the best time to prune,” he said, “because you can see the architecture of the trees. Removing branches directs more of a tree’s energy into producing fruit. We also prune for better air flow, which helps keeps fungal diseases down. In an orchard like this, we want to keep the tree height fairly low and stocky, so there won’t be a need for ladders at harvest time.”

More than two dozen neighbors showed up to help with the pruning. Among them was Devin Hogan, a candidate for the Minneapolis Park Board. “There’s potential for many more projects like this,” Hogan said. “We have several other public triangles, squares, and ovals that could be utilized for urban agriculture. That’s a unique feature of our city.”

Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church across the street served coffee and treats for the volunteers, and provides water for the orchard throughout the growing season. Co-pastor Dan Ankerfelt was on hand to help with the pruning. “Our congregation really appreciates the orchard; it’s what we see looking out from the front of our church,” he said.

Contact Trevor Russell at 612-338-8856 with questions about becoming an Adams Apple, a volunteer at Adams Grove Community Orchard, this season.

The creators of the orchard envision a place where everyone is welcome to come and relax, enjoy the fruits, and picnic in peace.

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