Goehring awards community-school orchard grants

BISMARCK – New trees and orchards will be springing up in two North Dakota communities and at three schools, thanks nearly $20,000 in grants from a new state program.

“The North Dakota Community Orchard Project aims to increase access to fresh, locally grown fruit and foster community spirit by bringing people together to plant and tend these orchards,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who announced the grants Wednesday.

The grants were awarded to:

  • Aneta Specialty Crop Group - $7,000 to create a community orchard and garden. The project involves the Aneta Homemaker's Club, Jolly Haymakers 4-H Club, Aneta Booster Club and the Aneta Specialty Crop Group working with the Nelson County Food Bank, Parkview Health Center and Dakota Prairie School. The orchard will also be used as a community activity center. 
  • City of Sheyenne Tree Board - $5,400 to develop a community orchard. The project involves the Sheyenne Town and County Civic Association, Trail Riders 4-H, the Sheyenne-Oberon Area Ministries and the Horizon Program's G.R.I.T community group. The fruit tree orchard will help grow the community's two-year-old Hunger Free ND Garden Project.
  • Elgin/New Leipzig Public School - $800 to build additional boxes to establish apple trees, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb at the existing O.W.L.S. Tree Project at the Elgin Public School.  With the goal of providing harvest to the school's Eating Wise Program.
  • Cankdeska Cikana Community College Land Grant Program (CCCC), Fort Totten – $4,000 to integrate fruit trees and bushes into the campus environment and to serve as an outdoor classroom for youth programs, college curriculum, and community workshops.  
  • North Dakota State University - $2,500 to benefit the Dragonfly Garden, a 1.5-acre outdoor classroom at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.  The goal of the project is to have the most diverse collection of fruit trees/bushes/berries in the state.

Goehring said the North Dakota Department of Agriculture received 27 grant applications in the first year of the project. The money can be used for plants, trees, equipment, planting supplies, soil amendments, irrigation and fencing supplies, but not for permanent structures or to buy land.

The grants are funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant through the NDDA's Local Foods Initiative.