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Fruit Tree Trail Is A 'Community Build' At Fairfield Hills



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Telling his story a second time was Andrew Mangold, describing for the Parks and Recreation Commission members Tuesday an idea for planting fruit trees along the trail at Fairfield Hills.in February to Fairfield Hills Authority, and will eventually bring it to the Board of Selectmen, seeking approval for a project "promising to have incredibly positive impact on our town," as stated in paperwork he provided the commissioners. Mr Mangold has established other "edible, ecological plantings in cities throughout Massachusetts for the past three years," his information states.Contact Andrew Mangold at ajm09@hampshire.edu. Reach Amy Mangold at amy.mangold@newtown-ct.gov.

He first introduced his concept for fruit trees and groundcover

He now aims to "scale up" his "edible restoration" plans to something larger, bringing the trees and plants to "empty grass sections," and possibly along the whole trail, except for the meadow, he said. Ultimately the project's scale "comes down to funds," he said. He will be relying on fundraising and private donations to purchase materials, and volunteer teams to plant and maintain the sites along the trail.

Commission Chairman Ed Marks asked if was possible to create new trees from saplings, or if Mr Mangold wanted larger trees. "You could propagate," Mr Mangold said, "or divide mature bushes and let things like strawberries spread," he answered.

Had he spoken with Land Use Deputy Director Rob Sibley? Mr Mangold confirmed that he spoke with Mr Sibley who directed him to approach the selectman with his plans.

Maureen Crick Owen asked about maintenance. Of the volunteer planting teams he had mentioned earlier, he said, "Several members can remain stewards." He will also choose plants that "require less maintenance as time goes on." Thin strips of ground will be planted "thick with groundcover and mulch and create a buffer from the grass," he said. "The model of planting is meant to outpace the weeds."

Will the planting "feed the wildlife too?" Mr Marks asked.

Amused, Mr Mangold said, "The word is 'all-beings.'" Some of the garden will be pollinator plants and "nectary things." The trees, however, will be protected with wire.

Mr Marks mentioned that peach trees, for example, could drop fruit on the ground and end up full of bees and very close to the walking trail.

An "enthusiastic harvest" is in Mr Mangold's vision, which would not leave much fruit on the ground, he said.

Describing the stretch of lawn near a soccer field and visible from Wasserman Way along a chain link fence, Mr Marks said, "We need help there." He indicated it was the strip near the Fairfield Hills main entrance. "We'd like to improve that area."

Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold, who is also Mr Mangold's mother, called the project a "community build." Hoping to begin work this summer, Mr Mangold sees the installation as "a big event" that could be done quickly. The recreation department could be sure that mulch and trees "are where they need to be," so the volunteer teams can arrive and begin gardening. Mr Mangold also hopes that water could be made available on planting day, he said, "or maybe a system for volunteers to water" could be established.

Mr Mangold has been thinking about a project like this for Newtown since the summer of 2014.

"We're enthusiastically behind the project," Mr Marks said, and offered to provide support.

A tier one funding goal of between $5,000 and $10,000 could buy 100-200 fruit trees and cover between 2,500 and 5,000 linear feet. Tiers two or three range from $10,000 to $25,000 or $25,000 to $50,000 and can include mature fruiting bushes, native perennial herbs and wildflowers, ground cover, and more.

A proposal to plant fruit trees along a trail at Fairfield Hills relies on volunteer teams to plant and maintain the trail. (contributed illustration)
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