Goehring awards community-school orchard grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded grants totaling $18,000 for eight projects to develop orchards and plant trees in eight communities.

“The goals of the North Dakota Community Orchard Project are to increase the production of fruit and nut trees that grow in North Dakota and provide educational opportunities and foster community spirit by bringing people together to plant and tend these orchards,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who announced the grants Monday.

The grants were awarded to:

  • James Valley Career and Tech Center, Jamestown - $4,286 to develop an orchard starting with 30 to 40 apple trees, surrounded by bush berries and other perennial fruit crops. Education experiences include planting, orchard care, harvesting, marketing and nutrition. Fruit will be used in school meal programs and by local food banks.
  • FARRMS, Medina - $1,720 to develop the Medina Community Apple Orchard as a gathering space for the community and the annual Medina Fall Festival. Volunteers and agriculture education classes will plant and maintain the orchard.
  • Century Elementary School, Grand Forks - $1,430 to develop a fruit tree orchard as part of a larger school garden project.
  • Hettinger Park District, Hettinger - $5,150 to restock the orchard at Mirror Lake Park, provide educational opportunities for children and adults and serve as a model for growing food locally that will be used in schools or food pantries.
  • Elgin-New Leipzig Public School, Elgin - $800 to increase the size of the orchard started last year, and which serves as an educational resource for the entire community.
  • St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Leonard - $2,214 to develop a community orchard as an extension of the church's youth garden project. The orchard would provide opportunities for fellowship and education, as well as fruit for donation to local food banks.
  • Marion Horizons Beautification Committee, Marion - $900 to replace trees and add grapevines, chokecherries and rhubarb to two orchard sites planted in 2011.
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck - $1,500 to improve irrigation in a fruit orchard located in a five-acre research and demonstration garden. The fruit orchard will provide local, healthy food to the UTTC Community and campus garden-to-cafeteria program.

Goehring said grant 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 North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) received 25 grant applications in the second year of the project. The grants are funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant through the NDDA's Local Foods Initiative.