Camp McDowell was among 17 organizations in the United States to win a fruit tree orchard from a nationwide contest held by the Edy’s Ice Cream’s “Communities Take Root” program, which helps provide fruit trees to communities around the United States in partnership with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
“It’s a big deal to win an orchard through our program, because we receive hundreds of applications each year,” said Melissa Marasco, a spokesperson for Edy’s Ice Cream who was on hand for the planting. “The trees we planted here at Camp McDowell will be here for generations to come, so we want to thank everyone who came to volunteer with the planting of the Bethany Orchard.”
Jon Nee, the farm education director for the new Bethany Village at Camp McDowell, said the orchard is part of the big expansion currently underway at the camp, and will be used as an outdoor classroom for the new farm school that will be up and running soon.
“We’re really excited about winning the orchard and want to say thank you to everyone who voted for us,” Nee said. “The whole reason we applied for the grant was to help enhance our community so anyone who comes to Camp McDowell could enjoy it. The orchard also takes us another step closer to being able to provide fresh home-grown food for our dining hall. And once we’re comfortable with working with this orchard, we hope to add more orchards to the property in the future.
Camp McDowell’s Executive Director, the Rev. Mark Johnston, welcomed the 75 or so volunteers who came out to help, including several students from Alabama A&M University who had been visiting Camp McDowell over the past several days.
The students had even received some hands-on training about planting fruit trees just prior to Sunday’s planting ceremony from the arborist who lead the ceremonial planting.
Rico Montenegro, a fruit tree specialist with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, said he feels very fortunate to have a job that affords him the privilege of traveling all over the United States and the world delivering donated fruit trees and working with communities to plant an orchard such as the one that was planted Sunday at Camp McDowell.
“As I told the students from A&M, I feel very privileged that in my job I have the opportunity to work with people from all over the United States and the world who are extremely passionate about wanting to make a difference in their communities,” Montenegro said. “So it was indeed a privilege for me to be included in the orchard planting that took place at Camp McDowell Sunday. Some of the places I go in to these events can be pretty heart-wrenching, but some are very uplifting like we saw here Sunday. But the response is always the same, everyone is excited and works really hard to help plant the trees.”
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an international non-profit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.
Montenegro thanked everyone for participating in Sunday’s orchard planting, and also gave a special thanks to the folks at Edy’s Ice Cream for making all the fruit tree orchard plantings possible.
The fruit trees that were planted in the orchard at the Bethany Village included apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, pears, persimmons and some pawpaws.
Sixteen other communities from across the United States will also soon reap the benefits of having a flourishing orchard that will provide fresh fruit for their families, green spaces for everyone to share and enjoy, and a brighter future for generations to come.
For more information about how you can help other organizations and their communities reap the same benefits, visit the Edy’s Ice Cream Communities Take Root website at www.CommunitiesTakeRoot.com; or the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation’s website at www.ftpf.org.