Wendell tree warden wants to start community orchard

  • Apples, pictured in Deerfield in 2017. Wendell Selectboard members were responsive last week to the tree warden’s proposal to create a community orchard that could provide food for locals. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/31/2022 3:25:09 PM
Modified: 1/31/2022 3:23:40 PM

WENDELL — Selectboard members were responsive last week to the tree warden’s proposal to create a community orchard that could provide food for locals.

Cliff Dornbusch said the town’s community garden, near the Town Office building, is popular, but there is not enough space there to plant trees. He said he understands any concern about the trees attracting bees and other insects to common spaces.

“I was imagining using the space off of West Road, where (Fiske Pond) is, basically, where it’s in conservation,” he said during last week’s virtual meeting, “but to build upon what’s already there and improving the biodiversity of pollinator species, but also having a pleasant space where a community can, you know, have access to locally-grown organic fruit.”

By Monday, however, Dornbusch had learned from the Fiske Pond Advisory Committee that trees can be planted in that space, but conservation restrictions prohibit the picking of fruit.

Dornbusch said he would be happy to manage the orchard, where maintenance would be volunteer-based. However, he added, the orchard would be significantly self-perpetuating after three or four years. Dornbusch said there are grants available for up to $50,000.

Phil Delorey, of the Wendell Road Commissioners, said the town owns roughly 15 feet on the side of every road in town.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t string apple trees all up and down West Road if you wanted to,” he said. “They flower good, they’re beautiful to see. They wouldn’t have to be giant trees, they could be dwarf trees. You could put one every 50 feet or something.”

But Dornbusch said sand spread by the Highway Department in winter could affect tree health if the trees are too close to a roadway. He also mentioned there is “a nice little triangle at the end of New Salem Road” and he was hoping to get permission to plant wildflowers there with seeds provided by Vermont Wildflower Farm.

Town Clerk Anna Wetherby said she supports Dornbusch’s idea, but said it must be fully understood by the Highway Department, which mows town property in the summer. She noted the Highway Department mowed over wildflowers someone planted across from her house years ago.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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