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Edible Fruit Trail Planner Hoping For First Plantings This Month



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Fruit trees could cast their shadows across a newer stretch of trail at Fairfield Hills as soon as early July.community design studio, that is … at the [C.H. Booth] library." He has been collecting "inspirations, and questions from the town that have informed the design. People have even been … naming their favorite plants, all of which have influenced what will be planted along the trail." The Plannewfruittrail.com/map.html.

Andrew Mangold on Monday, May 23, offered an update to his Newtown Fruit Trail project to the Fairfield Hills Authority (FHA).

Mr Mangold said he has "finished the design based on community input" he has received through an information display he had set up in the C. H. Booth Library. Through that display, residents were able to look at the design and types of plants and "put in their preferences," which influenced him, he said.

In an e-mail sent after the meeting, he explained, "This design has been informed by the

With a list of "interested people," and as many as 50 volunteers, and roughly $8,000 in funds raised, he is ready to begin planting, he indicated, by the second weekend in June. Funds have come from several local grants, local town boards, and direct donations from members of the community.

Based on the sum, Mr Mangold has scaled back his original idea to plant along the entire trail circling the campus, which would have been broken into eight sections. Instead, he proposes starting with two planting sections along the most recent trail area leading from Mile Hill South and toward the new ambulance garage on Washington Avenue.

"The plan now is to do high quality work on a smaller space," he said.

"That's wise," said FHA member Terry Sagedy.

FHA Chairman Thomas Connors said he was "still enthusiastic" about the plans.

Ross Carley raised a few concerns such as dropped fruit that could attract bees along a walking trail, and wondered about watering the plantings, and maintenance.

Easily addressing Mr Carley's concerns, Mr Mangold said that the plant variety choices have fruits or berries that "linger" on the trees, and not heavy fruit. Trees with heavier fruits are "a few years out," he said. With enough notice to residents, the fruits could be picked before falling from the tree.

"We can generate interest so folks are out there with baskets before it's an issue," he said.

Maintenance took him back to the types of plants selected. His plant list includes "mostly varieties that thrive without much pruning and are pest resistant." The plants require "far less maintenance than orchards you may be used to."

Water is available at the nearby Victory Garden and Mr Mangold believes a spigot could be installed for the fruit trail. Volunteer stewards from the community could be appointed to tend a section, he said.

Authority members also recalled that the Parks and Recreation Department staff had said they would contribute to maintenance efforts.

Mr Mangold also intends to place a thick mulch and "companion plants to help hold moisture." He also mentioned shade plants.

"Done properly [the plants] can help themselves along," Mr Mangold told the authority members that evening.

He aims to plant the fruit trail in one weekend with volunteer teams, and without closing the walking trail.

The trees will be of a dwarf variety, a few feet off the trail, with berries within arm's reach, he said.

Mr Connors asked for a list of plants and project plans and details to keep in town files, and also asked that Mr Mangold request a memo from the recreation department regarding its involvement.

Residents can learn more about this project at wewfruittrail.com.

The site states that the plan is to fill Newtown's new walking trail with "edible, ecological plants that will benefit our land and our community for years to come. The trail will be lined with fruit trees, nut trees, medicinal plants, and wildflowers for the benefit of all who visit the trail."

Because the Fairfield Hills Authority did not have a quorum to approve the trail plans on May 23, members held a special meeting on the morning of June 1 when Mr Carley presented a motion to approve the project, contingent on Parks and Recreation's ability to maintain the grounds if and when necessary. Andrew Willie seconded this motion, and members were in favor, and the vote passed unanimously, according to meeting minutes posted at Newtown-ct.gov.

An e-mail in late May provided a thorough planting list that includes many species, and "a few unique varieties," he said. Mr Mangold's list named several dozen mulberries, 39 shrubs, 68 berries, ground cover, wildflowers - some medicinal, edible understory plants, and other support plants. Find all planting information online at

"These plants are all selected to thrive in our CT climate. They are hardy, pest-resistant, and adaptable," wrote Mr Mangold, who recommends the plants listed "for anyone who is looking to do some edible landscaping around New England."

He also has completed a schematic view of the planting.

The detailed drawing "demonstrates what a successful food forest, or polyculture planting looks like, from installation on into maturity."

Among the areas where the plants are drawn in, "There are also spaces that will not be planted where art, benches, tables or other installations can be put later, ideally crafted by members of the community."

He said, "This is a step that all towns can take to improve the environment and start producing valuable resources at home." The trail planting will "provide a space where community can gather, socialize, and obtain the best, healthy food for free."

Anticipating the planting process, he said, "We are drawing on best-practice installation procedures for a thriving 'food forest'. The site will be remineralized, thoroughly mulched, planted thick with ground covers, native plants, and pollinator species. All plants have been selected to thrive. This planting will outlive all of us, ensuring that all those to come after us can enjoy towering trees full of persimmon, chestnuts and Pawpaw."

Roughly 50 volunteers will be dived between four planting teams with a trained leader to guide their crew. Several team members will become "stewards" of a particular section who will help to water and prune.

Additional volunteers are still welcomed to join, he said. Find out more about volunteering at newfruittrail.com/participate.html. Mr Mangold is also still accepting donations, "big and small'" he said. "Continued funds will ensure sufficient ground cover plants and long-term plant labels for every tree. For those who are really inspired, we have a separate funding priority to install solar-powered benches/study spaces where students and community alike can plug in to do homework, read, or host small meetings outside along the trail."

The latest map from Edible Fruit Trail creator Andrew Mangold shows a series of small berry bushes, dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit plantings, fruiting shrubs, blueberry hedges and standard fruit plantings along the Fairfield Hills walking trail section that stretches between Newtown Volunteer Ambulance headquarters and The Newtown Victory Garden. (image courtesy Andrew Mangold)
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