Fresh fruit from apple trees planted in memory of the 12/14 victims will soon add to future Victory Garden harvests.
On October 5 at 10 am, garden founder Harvey Pessin and a team of community members and volunteers will celebrate a groundbreaking for the fruit tree panting in Fairfield Hills. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) of Pennsylvania, and Metropolitan State University, and Inver Hills Community College, both of Minnesota have donated resources and expertise to create a thriving fruit tree orchard. The effort is in partnership with the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department. At 11 am that morning will be the Victory Garden Harvest Festival, overlapping the planting event.
Community members are invited to attend and volunteer at the planting and groundbreaking, and enjoy a tree giveaway, and workshops. Rain or shine. Thirty fruit trees of various types, including apple cultivars developed in Minnesota will be planted. An additional 30 trees will be distributed to volunteers who help with the planting.
According to a recent press release, Fruit Tree Planting Foundation Executive Director Cem Akin said, “The Victory Garden memorial orchard will provide families in Newtown with a sustainable source of nutrition and clean air for decades to honor the memories of students from Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Mr Pessin said, “The orchard is designed to provide food for the community, but more importantly the trees planted will honor the memories of the victims.”
Eight students from the university and college and two professors involved with the FTPF will be in Newtown for the groundbreaking. “They have fundraised to fly out and stay,” Mr Pessin said. Learn more at FTPF.org.
Mr Pessin has been anticipating their visit for weeks, and has also heard from volunteers who will help plant the trees. “The emails from volunteers could make you cry,” he said.
When Mr Pessin planned the garden rows this season, he had left a third of the space empty, with his heart set on planting trees. When he learned of the FTPF and students’ interest in “doing this for Newtown,” he sad their plans were “a perfect fit.”
The day will be a form of horticultural therapy for families coming to plant these trees,” he said. The day will be “a big deal,” he said.
Professor August Hoffman of Metropolitan State University said in an email: “The Sandy Hook Victory Garden will primarily serve both Metropolitan State University and Inver Hills Community College students by providing them an opportunity to participate in a community development project with diverse groups. The primary advantage provided for our students is an opportunity to apply the variety of skills [they] have learned to a ‘real world’ setting and the community itself. Students will learn about community engagement principles, as well as the psychological benefits for community service work activities and gardening projects such as tree planting skills.”
He wrote, “This is a rare and highly humanitarian project that we all feel honored and quite privileged to participate in - in short, we hope to improve the healing process of a community still in mourning.”
According to a recent release, the trees, when fully mature, will provide the community with healthy harvest and clean air each year, with approximately 1,650 pounds of fresh fruit harvest, 7,425 pounds of carbon dioxide sequestered, 5,850 pounds of oxygen created, and 225 pounds of air pollutants filtered from the atmosphere.
The release states, “each participating organization will contribute a unique set of skills, including fruit tree planting experience and orchard design, to ensure that the orchard will provide fresh produce for decades. The orchard will consist of 30 fruit trees of varying types, including apple cultivars developed in Minnesota, with an additional 30 trees to be distributed to the volunteers who sign up to help with the planting, so that they may plant them in their own backyards for a healthy harvest.”
Mr Pessin also provided information about the project’s chief arborist Rico Montenegro of California, who will also be here for the planting. Mr Montenegro has worked with fruit trees for nearly four decades and is an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist, and has consulted on projects for federal, state, and local governments, providing a wide range of horticultural training and advice. He has served as an advisor for a number of highly regarded gardening publications, and has taught fruit tree science at the college level and continues to teach classes in various public settings on fruit tree selection, training, and sustainable management practices. Mr Montenegro has developed successful fruit tree restoration programs by training volunteers to assist with the rehabilitation of several 100-year old orchards in Northern California. He is licensed to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques using cultural, biological and other organic methods. His extensive knowledge of pomology and fruit tree science, combined with his teaching skills at all levels, ensures that every FTPF project achieves the maximum benefit for the environment and community.
About The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water. FTPF programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, at places such as public schools, city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, and international hunger relief sites. FTPF’s unique mission, which has been featured in major publications across the country, benefits the environment, human health, and community involvement—all at once! For more information, visit www.ftpf.org.