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Changes and Community Outreach Happening in the Orchard Garden

Tucked away behind The Orchard Shop lies the Orchard Garden. Unlike many of the other gardens at Minnetrista, we grow vegetables and other produce in the Orchard Garden. Additionally, local community members are welcome to stop by, remove a few weeds, and take home a cucumber or an onion with them.

In other words, the Orchard Garden is a community and educational space, and this summer, we’ve been working to expand the meaning of that.

One example of our educational mission is our Straw Bale Garden.

Two apple trees in the Orchard Garden suffered from fire blight this year, and we had to cut part of them down to avoid infecting other nearby trees. Since many homeowners may not be able to completely remove a dead tree from the ground themselves, we decided to turn the space into a demonstration of what you can do at home if you’re ever in a similar situation.

We placed two straw bales between the trees and made space for soil and fertilizer in the bales. Then, we planted a few seedlings, flowers, and herb plants on the top of the bales and in the spaces along the sides. Finally, we used some wire and screw eyes to create a trellising structure between the two trees.

Now, there are several cherry tomato plants climbing up the wires, a squash plant spilling over the edges of the bale, and mint just waiting to be harvested.

Food insecurity, or the lack of accessible and affordable food, is an issue in Muncie—and one that we want to help address. Several community organizations such as the Whitely Community Council are already fighting food insecurity by creating and running a neighborhood food pantry.

Our hope is that we can eventually produce enough crops to make regular sizable contributions to organizations like the Whitely Community Food Pantry. We’ve taken one step to contribute this summer by distributing over a dozen portable container gardens to members of the Whitely neighborhood so that they have the opportunity to grow their own produce at home.

Another new project that is currently underway in the Orchard Garden is an ADA accessible raised bed area. If someone is in a wheelchair or is unable to bend over to do gardening work near the ground, one way to provide them with the opportunity to garden is by creating beds raised to an accessible height.

We’re building a few different structures like this in the Orchard Garden right now, and we’re excited to finish this project so that everyone can experience the joy of gardening alongside us.