We held our first Orchard Stewards Program session back in August. Potential “orchardistas” learned about the program, connected to each other, and shared stories of urban gardening with community members. The Orchard Stewards Program is a series of stewardship classes designed to teach the ins and outs of orcharding, everything from pruning and thinning to building an Orchard House. On the first day, we discussed how trees and educated orchard care can benefit our Chesapeake Bay. Each Steward is now on the lookout for local streams and are cognizant of how their orchards benefit their streams. Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for educating us on this topic and providing the financial support for making the Orchard Stewards Program possible!
The first session was meant to give an overview of the year-long program, and what we created together was a network of community orchardists, dedicated to greening their communities and helping each other. “Where do you all find this joy in farming?” asked one new Steward Carolyn McGee. This question sparked inspirational stories among the other Stewards, including how one neighbor bought flowers taken from a community garden only to give them back to the garden. We gave out wildflower seed paper and Stewards wrote goals for their community orchards for the year and planted them at their orchards. Some Stewards had children involved in their orchards draw on the seed paper and planted the paper. Alonzo and Nicole LaMont, seasoned Orchardistas from the Callaway Orchard, shared their experience of how orchards bring neighbors together. This initial session sparked ideas, motivation, and reminded the BOP team of why we do what we do with community. It’s funny how trees have a way of bringing together!