Funds available for community and school orchards

BISMARCK – To promote the cultivation of fruit trees in North Dakota, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has established a new grant program to encourage the planting of community and school orchards.

“Fruit and nut trees not only supply fresh food, but add considerably to the beauty of our communities and schools,” Goehring said. “We also hope this program will increase access to fresh, locally grown fruit and will foster a build-up of community spirit by bringing people together to plant and tend these orchards.”

Goehring said communities and schools are eligible for grants of $500 to $7,000 dollars through the Local Foods Initiative. The grants are available on a competitive basis.

“The grants can be used for plants, trees, equipment, planting supplies, soil amendments, irrigation and fencing supplies,” he said. “The funds cannot be used for permanent structures or to buy land.”

Application forms for the grants are available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) website at http://www.nd.gov/ndda/program-info/local-foods-initiative/starting-community-orchard-north-dakota. Grant applications must be received by March 15.

Goehring said questions about the grant program should be directed to Dana Pritschet, NDDA  local foods coordinator, at (701) 3284763 or Pritschet@nd.gov.