City Orchard: Nourishing the Capital

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By Jameson Spivack

Bread for the City, a nonprofit group dedicated to providing food, medical care, and other necessities to D.C. residents who cannot afford them, recently began its newest project, City Orchard. City Orchard is a program that grows fruits and vegetables, which are then used to stock the shelves of Bread for the City’s food pantry. Whereas most food pantries rely on donations, Bread for the City is growing its own fresh, local produce, in partnership with Casey Trees, a group that protects the plant life in the D.C. area.

The City Orchard project grows fruits and vegetables for a D.C. food pantry. (Image credit: Bread for the City)

The project has already planted 200 apple, Asian pear, and persimmon trees and blueberry and blackberry bushes, and plans to have 800 more in the ground over the next year. Once they have matured in 2014, they will provide up to 40,000 lbs. of fruit per year, all of which will be given to the needy.

The idea for City Orchard came from Bread for the City’s nutrition consultant Sharon Feuer Gruber, who noticed there wasn’t enough fresh fruit on food pantry shelves. She then teamed up with Casey Trees, who had already been in talks with the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) about using some of their property to create a community garden.

Through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, Bread for the City received the funding it needed to get the garden started. City Orchard will provide fruits and vegetables to Bread for the City’s “Glean for the City” project, which collects fresh, free surplus produce. It will then distribute the nutritious food to the hungry in D.C. through its food pantries.

The project also provides a place for both D.C. residents and Bread for the City clients to learn about nutrition, urban farming, and the benefits of local, nutritious food. Through programs like nutrition and cooking workshops, residents can become more knowledge about and involved in the food they are eating.

How else can sustainable agriculture be used to combat hunger? Comment below!

Jameson Spivack is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

To read more about using sustainable agriculture to fight hunger see: Feeding Mouths and Empowering Communities in Brazil, What You Need to Know About Hunger, Running the Numbers II: One Artist Brings Hunger Statistics to Life, and Global Hunger Index Tells Stories of Progress and Stagnation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one-minute book trailer, click HERE.

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