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Give an apple, get an apple: Grand Rapids’ first urban orchard

Rapid Growth Media

Did you know we have an urban orchard in Grand Rapids? It's located in Aberdeen Park, thanks in part to the planning and generosity of the Creston Neighborhood Association.

An urban orchard consists of trees planted in a public space for the entire community's benefit. The idea was brought to light at a sub-committee meeting of the neighborhood association earlier this year. Board member Amanda St. Amour knew well the advantages of trees since her brother has been an arborist for many years. She was excited to work on the Living Green in Creston sub-committee.

"The committee really liked the idea and we created a proposal to present to the Board of Directors," explains St. Amour.

The proposal contained planning, implementation and strategy. Likewise, it also outlined the benefits of creating an urban orchard such as storm water quality, providing fruit and nuts to the community, as well as the aesthetic value.

With approval, the committee met with the Grand Rapids Area Parks and Recreation department, who was very supportive and excited that citizens were taking an initiative with city assets.  Joining forces, the group decided to plant trees at Aberdeen, Briggs and Riverside Parks.

Antique apple and pear trees as well as Chinese chestnuts were donated by Michael St. Amour of Athens Arborist to the project. Community members sponsored trees to cover the planting materials needed and the idea was well on its way to reality.

They settled on an orchard-like grid at Aberdeen Park to complement the already existing layout. Friends and neighbors came together to complete the hard work of planting. The Creston Neighborhood Association turned it into festivities which included a bake-off, pie-eating contest, brick decorating and, of course, tree planting.

"The orchard is for everyone," explains St. Amour. Twenty-nine trees in all were planted among the three parks, and the bounties will be enjoyed by all who visit for years to come.

Want to be a do-gooder too? Here's how to get involved with projects at the Creston Neighborhood Association:
·         Visit the Creston Neighborhood Association website
·         "Like" them on facebook
·         Check out upcoming events
·         Become a member

Source: Amanada St. Amour, Creston Neighborhood Association
Writer: Jennifer Wilson, Do Good Editor

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