The fifth OSP class brought a great amount of planning, discussions, and partnerships to a head. We demonstrated how to make “Orchard Houses”. Similar to “Tiny Free Libraries”, Orchard Houses allow Stewards to keep their records and learning materials (like “Growing Urban Orchards”, “Bounty”, and “What’s Wrong with My Fruit Garden”) all in one place. They can act as signage for an orchard, and as a marker for a space, indicating that an orchard is a welcoming community space where people can learn together.
These Orchard Houses are a year in the making! As a previous BOP AmeriCorps member, Eric came up with the idea for orchards to host resources all in one place and beautify their space with something similar to a tiny free library. After discussions with our Board Member and carpenter, Chris Herrmann, Eric built a prototype out of cardboard. We had to keep the structure small because we had limited funds and capacity to build these tiny houses. Still, Eric’s prototype was exciting! Finally, community orchardists might be able to host their own resources, and therefore be empowered by knowledge each time they would be in their orchard.
Meanwhile, Gwen, Eric, Nina, and Ben worked on writing a grant for the Orchard Stewards Program. Before we came up with the final idea, we knew we had to train the community orchardists that wanted to do the best they could for their trees and neighbors. The Orchard Houses fit right into the idea of empowering orchardists with knowledge. After many drafts of the grant, we submitted and were awarded the Chesapeake Bay Trust grant. Thanks to this funding, we were able to design and build Orchard Houses complete with weather indicators, rain gages, galvanized hinges, posts, and more.
So one year later, Eric and Gwen got to see the ideas of the Orchard Houses and Orchard Stewards come together. We knew we had to create a neat resource for our amazing BOPers—the people that cultivate communities by cultivating orchards—and now this dream is a reality!
We can’t thank our partners enough for making the dream come true. Flight 1 Carriers (Spoon), for your space, time, and kindness; Chris, for giving us the skills and faith we needed to make the Orchard Houses a reality. And all of our Stewards, who get to build their own Orchard Houses while building community.