The city of De Pere has planted a seed of sorts for a unique agricultural program aimed at bearing fruit. As local 5’s Kris Schuller discovered the city is creating urban orchards to benefit the community.
On six plots of land across the city of De Pere – 72 fruit trees grow.
“We’ve got apple, we’ve got pear and we’ve got plum,” said Don Melichar.
In small urban orchards – designed to be accessible to anyone.
“Basically, what we did we take three different kinds of fruit trees and we’re planting them at various locations in the city,” Melichar said.
The De Pere city forester says these fruit trees are part of city’s Urban Orchard program. Founded in 2016 – with one simple goal.
“To help provide fruit to people that, like I said, maybe don’t have access to fresh fruit,” said Melichar.
The first trees were planted here at Westwood Elementary School and over time five more locations were added. Funded completely through donations – to provide fresh fruit and promote healthy weight and nutrition to both children and adults.
“It says a lot for the community I believe, to be doing this active of an approach for the health of their constituents,” said Deborah Armbruster of the De Pere Health Department.
“I think it’s awesome that they thought of putting it in a school site,” said Westwood Elementary School teacher, Peggy Loritz.
Loritz uses Westwood’s orchard as a teaching resource – reconnecting the community to a piece of the past.
“Years ago, lots of people had fruit trees in their backyard and kids would grow up with that and that’s not so anymore – this gives those kids and families an opportunity,” Loritz said.
With six orchards now – Melichar says the goal is two more each year – until dozens are active throughout the city.
“We have Honey Crisp apples, we have Liberty apple we have Cortland apple,” said Melichar.
Each tree producing fruit – free for the taking – grown in these urban orchards.