City in running for community orchard

Countryman was an undergraduate in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs when she was writing her thesis and learning about different models for food distribution. After graduating in December 2009, she wrote a proposal for the city to have more fruit trees.

“I didn’t think much would happen with it,” said Countryman, who is now working on a master’s degree through SPEA.

She said she was surprised when she heard from the city about wanting to create an initiative to start growing more fruit trees.

Bloomington is participating in a Communities Take Root grant, which would give the city at least 20 fruit trees as well as support to help the orchard thrive, Countryman said.

Anyone in the community will be able to use the fruit trees, and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank will also benefit from the orchard.

“Our vision and our goal are to grow food available to anyone in the community for free,” Countryman said.

The City of Bloomington has designated an area adjacent to the Winslow Woods Park and the YMCA to house the orchard.

The grant will give orchards to five communities who place first in rounds. Winners are determined based on online votes.

Countryman said she feels confident that Bloomington will win the first round because it has consistently been in first or second place.

The voting for this month, which is the first round, ends on April 30. The contest ends on Aug. 31.

The grant is sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, according to the Communities Take Root website.

Countryman said there was a public meeting in February, where five groups were formed to make the plan a reality.

The Bloomington Community Orchard, which is behind the movement, is trying to form a board of directors to lead the project of creating a fruit
orchard in the city.

Anyone can be nominated for the board until Saturday, according to the Bloomington Community Orchard website. They are looking for people passionate about the project to become members, Countryman said.

If the city is chosen as one of the winners for the fruit orchard, it will begin preparing the land designated for the orchard as early as May, Countryman said.

The city also has a group of people looking at the different types of trees and plants that would best benefit the area. The planting would begin sometime in the fall.

“It’s been astounding what’s come out of this project,” Countryman said. “People are really excited.”

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