Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Voting to Plant an Orchard in Hondo

Hondo Garden
By Julia Price
Executive Director, New Mexico Alliance for Children

This spring, our non-profit, New Mexico Alliance for Children, applied for a grant to plant a public fruit orchard in the Hondo Valley at the Hondo Community Garden. We've made it to the final round of the competition, and now it's up to all of us to vote.

Can you please help us create a healthier environment, increase the local organic food supply, and build a wonderful outdoor learning space for our children?

Anyone, anywhere, any age can vote once per day! Just go to Communities Take Root and vote YES to planting a fruit orchard in Hondo.

There is a short sign-in process, but it only takes a moment to complete.

More project details follow. We have also included photos of Lincoln County Head Start children taking part in the harvest at Hondo Community Garden last fall.

This opportunity is made possible by a grant through Dreyer's Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation's "Communities Take Root" program. It's a way of giving back to communities across the country by donating and planting fruit trees in deserving areas. Their hope is to not only beautify these neighborhoods, but to encourage healthy eating and build strong community relationships.

The Hondo Community Garden was selected from hundreds of applications nationwide as one of the possible sites for a fruit orchard provided by Dreyers. But now it's up to us. Only 17 locations with the most votes will win. Anyone anywhere can vote multiple times, once per day, starting on Monday, April 16 through August 29. People of all ages are invited to cast one vote per day by visiting to support the planting of a fruit orchard in Hondo.

The Hondo Community Garden was started by Lincoln County Commissioner Jackie Powell. It is located on county-owned land in Hondo Valley, New Mexico, next to the Hondo Senior Citizens Center. It currently has raised beds for vegetable planting, a compost area and a rainwater catchment system, and land available for planting fruit trees. The garden makes healthy, locally grown produce available for low-income families in the area. It also creates educational and environmental awareness opportunities for local residents and visiting schools.

An orchard would be a valuable addition to the community garden, supplying fresh fruit for the community and serving as an outdoor classroom as well. It would help raise awareness about health and conserving the environment through hands-on gardening experiences, and would provide more opportunities for our youth to grow and eat healthy, delicious food! --The Hondo Community Garden is a part of the Lincoln and Otero County Healthy Life Initiative.

This group of public and private agencies and local gardeners is supported by the US Forest Service, with educational programming and garden management through the New Mexico Alliance for Children (NMAC), a local non-profit organization. In 2011, the program exposed more than 300 students to methods for cultivating a diverse, organic food garden. You can learn more about the Healthy Life Initiative by visiting NMAC's website .

Editor's Note: The Santa Fe Indian School is also one of the finalists, and you can vote for them if you choose via Communities Take Root.  But remember, you only get one vote per day.  Here is information on their project:

In establishing the orchard as a part of the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) community garden and greenhouse / outdoor classroom project, the school will illustrate both the traditional and current importance of a balanced, local, food system and its impact on learning. 

The act of planting and caring for the fruit trees will bring the community together and the harvested fruit will benefit the health of Native youth for generations to come. 

Because SFIS serves many different Native Communities, many community members visit the school for various activities. The school agriscience program, greenhouse, and developing farmer’s market have become increasingly important in establishing agriculture in the curriculum. In addition, an orchard would provide fresh fruit for the healthy living culinary arts classes, which work with the school’s cafeteria food program, and allow students to learn different methods of fruit preparation and preservation. 

Another important aspect is that the soil at the site, which is compacted construction soil, represents many sites in the pueblo communities and its conversion to a productive orchard is an important learning opportunity for students and community members. With its growing community based agriculture relationships, in which students help and learn alongside community members in the pueblos, and including the post-seconday Institute for American Indian Arts, a community orchard at SFIS would impact thousands.)

No comments: