Community orchard to be planted in Goshen

Young trees grow in Goshen’s municipal nursery. Increased tree cover would be part of a plan to make the city carbon neutral by 2035.

GOSHEN — Goshen has received seed money to start a community orchard in the form of a $30,000 grant.

The city was awarded the Community Resilience Grant through the Arbor Day Foundation with corporate sponsorship from Enterprise Holdings Foundation. The money will be used to create a community orchard at Abshire Park, according to information from the city.

An initial planting event is scheduled for Monday at the park.

The idea for a community orchard was raised by Patrick Coonan, a Goshen resident and urban forager who wanted to see Goshen residents take advantage more of the fruit and nut crops growing around us, according to the announcement. He pitched the idea of an orchard to the Goshen Park Board in 2018, and the Goshen Park Department began the work to envision space for such a project.

"The idea behind a community orchard is to create a gathering space where Goshen residents can discover new types of edible fruit and nuts, learn how to care for these plants and share in the harvest," Coonan said in the announcement from the city.

In spring, a grant application was submitted to the Arbor Day Foundation for funding to build Goshen’s first community orchard. The funding was confirmed in October, and an initial planting event with volunteers from the Goshen community and from Enterprise Holdings Foundation is scheduled at Abshire Park for Monday.

The Abshire Park location was chosen for several reasons, beyond the fact that it offers ample space for an orchard. The cabin at the park has a fully functional kitchen which can be used for food processing and demonstration events.

The park is also a trail head for the Pumpkinvine bike route, and is a major thoroughfare for bike routes throughout Goshen.

The orchard will include native plants like paw paw and persimmon trees, beech plum bushes and elderberry shrubs, along with some more familiar plants like apples, pears, cherries and blueberries. Next spring, more exotic plants that are suited to the climate in northern Indiana will be added.

Seaberry plants dotted with bright orange berries will form a colorful hedge along the southern entrance of the orchard, while honeyberry, blueberry and currant plants will be incorporated throughout the orchard, according to the city. Hazelnut shrubs, chestnut trees and Korean pines will add edible nuts to the mix.

The plantings will count towards Goshen’s urban tree canopy goal of 45 percent by 2045, will sequester carbon dioxide, will serve as a point of community interaction and will provide nutritious food over time.

The project has brought together many different individuals and groups from the community and beyond, including students from Memorial High School in Elkhart, Horizon Education Alliance, Luke Gascho, a local food forest experimenter, Trees For Goshen, the Community Orchard Project, the Community Resilience Guild and the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department. There are also many volunteers who will help plant trees.

Keona Koster, program coordinator for the Arbor Day Foundation, said in the announcement, "Goshen’s community orchard project was highly rated by our teams in components including the resilience story, community engagement, connection to a larger plan, impact and imagination."

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