Saint Joseph's College has received a $5,000 grant from the national nonprofit Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) to provide trees and equipment for the newly planted orchard south of Schwietermann Hall on the SJC campus. This site will be considered a local People's Garden, part of the nationwide network of gardens supported by the USDA People's Garden Initiative.
The orchard, which is managed by SJC Associate Professor of Education Dr. Lana Zimmer, contains 61 trees. The various trees produce nuts, pears, apricots, and 18 varieties of apples. The terms of the grant state that the trees must start producing fruit in three years. According to Dr. Zimmer, the mix of dwarf and semi-dwarf trees should begin producing well before the deadline.
The orchard, which has been identified as a point of interest by the Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council, will be utilized to provide healthy, locally grown food to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry in Rensselaer. Apples will be delivered to Saint Augustine School in Rensselaer, and the fruit and nuts that grow on the trees will be free for the taking for SJC students, faculty, and staff. Workshops will be offered each year on pruning as part of the grant's educational initiative.
"The ACTrees People's Garden Grant Program is about education," said Dr. Zimmer. "We will use the grant to maximize the potential of the orchard and to educate members of the Rensselaer and SJC communities on agriculture and sustainability."
The ACTrees People's Garden Grant Program is a new national initiative launched in 2012 to explore and deepen the connection between trees and urban agriculture. With support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, ACTrees has provided funding to 30 communities in 21 states to plant trees that produce fruit and nuts or provide shelter to community gardens.
ACTrees is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With more than 200 member organizations in 44 states and Canada, ACTrees engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 93% of people live: in cities, towns, and other metropolitan areas.
ACTrees member organizations have planted and cared for more than 15 million trees in cities with help from more than 5 million volunteers.
For more information, please visit www.ACTrees.org and follow the organization on Twitter at @alliance4trees and Facebook at facebook.com/AllianceforCommunityTrees.
Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 34 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of 1,100 students.
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