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Bloomington Community Orchard Becoming A Reality

Dozens of Bloomington residents got together at Winslow Park Saturday morning to help start the Bloomington Community Orchard.

The group received two grants. One from Toms of Maine and one from Edys Ice Cream. But the idea originated in a paper, written by then IU student Amy Countryman for an undergraduate SPEA Class. She never expected it to receive the kind of support it did.

Ross Gay is the co-facilitator of the Bloomington Community Orchard. "This was actually an undergraduate project," said Gay. "I know my undergraduate projects, I wasn’t dreaming like this and I think we should be."

With the grant money, volunteers were able to purchase 44 different types of trees. Then, dozens of families showed up this weekend to help get the trees in the ground.

"How cool is that," said co-founder Amy Countryman. "To come out and help plant a tree and then be able to bring your kids back to it and say I planted this apple tree when I was 5 years old."

One of the main reasons for the orchard is to educate people about sustainability and food security... topics many Monroe County residents are familiar with.

"Part of why this struck such a big cord is because Bloomington is such a neat place where people already care about stuff like this."

However, Amy Coutryman said this sort of project can be implemented in any community.

"I think deep down everybody in the world cares about eating, and being healthy and having a community that’s healthy and wanting to work together."

The fruit is organic and will be maintained solely by volunteers. The group hopes to host classes to teach community members how to keep up the orchard as well as harvest the fruit. That, however, is still many years away.

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