Portland urban orchard to host 1st public activities

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PORTLAND — An urban orchard planted on a hill above the city near East End Community School will hold its inaugural public event from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 11.

Begun six years ago, the Mt. Joy Orchard consists of more than 100 fruit trees, plus herbs and other edibles, and several native species.

The orchard is specifically designed to create a sustainable agricultural habitat of biodiverse and pollinator-friendly plants, according to the orchard Facebook page.

The fruit trees include heritage apples, pears, peaches, elderberries, plums and more, including Cornelian cherries and apricots.

The orchard at 181 Washington Ave. is public and anyone is invited to come pick whatever happens to be in season. It was planted and is maintained by community volunteers working in partnership with City Arborist Jeff Tarling.

The core group of volunteers includes members from many local businesses and organizations, including Edgewood Nursery, ReTree US, The Resilience Hub, East End Community School, North Street Community Gardens, Cultivating Community, Garbage to Garden, Rewild Maine, Portland Forest Playgroup, Wild Carrot Herbs, Wild Seed Project, and North Spore Mushrooms.

During the public day on Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to plant new trees, attend workshops and enjoy kid-friendly activities, as well as take part in a community potluck. All attendees are asked to bring a dish to share, as well as their own tableware.

Those interested will also be encouraged to sign up for work parties that will be held throughout the growing season and into the fall and early winter.

The mission of the orchard, according to the Facebook page, is “to increase food access, the resiliency of our community, increase ecologically managed spaces and provide an opportunity for (agricultural) education.”

The Mt Joy Orchard on Washington Avenue has a commanding view of Back Cove. Over the past six years it’s grown to include more than 100 fruit trees and other plantings.

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