What is Gateway Greening’s Giving Grove Program?
At Gateway Greening we believe that the St. Louis region is only as strong as its communities, so we work toward the vision of a St. Louis region where people are connected to the land, to their food, and to each other in deeply rooted resilient urban communities.
Since 1984 Gateway Greening has been working to educate and empower people to strengthen their communities by supporting food-producing community projects. However, community groups want to grow more than just vegetables. They also want to grow fruit and nut crops.
In 2017 Gateway Greening partnered with the Giving Grove in Kansas City, MO to bring their community orchard program to St. Louis. Doing so is allowing us to help community groups grow a broad diversity of fruit and nut crops that are naturally disease resistant, using a holistic management program that the Kansas City Giving Grove has been using successfully for many years.
As of Fall 2017, the Giving Grove in Kansas City has helped plant over 2,000 fruit and nut bearing plants across Kansas City, and we hope to plant many more here in St. Louis in the years to come. Rob Reiman, the Giving Grove’s Executive Director said, “We are beyond thrilled to be able to collaborate with Gateway Greening to help bring sustainable orchards to more food insecure communities in the St. Louis area.”
Small community orchards have an incredible potential to produce fresh produce for St. Louis’ many communities. An average Giving Grove orchard in Kansas City contains 15 trees and is capable of producing over 3,500 pounds of produce each year once the plants reach maturity.
So if you are interested in growing community by growing perennial foods in a holistic way read on for details about Gateway Greening’s new Giving Grove program.
Who is eligible for the Giving Grove Program?
Everyone! We are happy to work with any community group who is interested in establishing a Giving Grove Orchard.
Any school or community garden that has completed Gateway Greening’s Garden Development Process are eligible to apply for orchard plants and materials using an Orchard Expansion Application. This is separate from the bi-annual Garden Expansion Application.
Orchard Expansion Applications will be available during the month of October (for spring planting) and during the month of May (for fall planting) each year. We will announce the application opening via Gateway Greening’s regular Enews and social media.
We require all new orchards to have two orchard “stewards,” only one of which can be a current garden leader. This requirement is intended to support the long-term care and continued management of the orchard sustainably.
We also ask that every Giving Grove Orchard commits to giving a portion of their harvest. This can be as simple as informally giving produce to neighbors throughout the year, encouraging passersby to visit and pick food to take home, or by formally donating to a local food pantry or soup kitchen.
Any new community group may apply for a Giving Grove Orchard through Gateway Greening’s Development Process.
At Gateway Greening, we believe that new garden and orchard projects are more sustainable and locally beneficial if they are “community-led.” Our garden/orchard development process assists community groups in identifying local resources, engaging community members, and creating long-term management plans.
Over the years, we have found that community groups who complete our project development process create long-lasting, supported community spaces.
We ask that every Giving Grove Orchard commits to giving a portion of their harvest. This can be as simple as informally giving produce to neighbors throughout the year, encouraging passersby to visit and pick food to take home, or by formally donating to a local food pantry or soup kitchen.
Once approved, the final steps to installing a Giving Grove Orchard are:
- An on-site visit with one of Gateway Greening’s Program Managers to discuss the site and its unique planting conditions.
- Our Program Manager creates a site (planting) plan and sends it back to the community group or garden for feedback.
- New Orchard Stewards must attend a one time workshop to learn or review the best practices for planting an orchard and how to care for the orchard over the next two years.
- Once the site plan is finalized and the New Orchard Steward training is complete, we will work with the community group to set a mutually beneficial planting date.
What is the Cost of an Orchard?
There is a cost for materials when installing a Giving Grove Orchard, however, there are no costs for labor or hidden, continuing fees.
In order to make orcharding accessible for everyone in St. Louis, Gateway Greening offers scholarships that will reduce the cost of installation by 50%, or 90%. At this point in time, there are no scholarships that will cover 100% of a Giving Grove Orchard installation.
Gateway Greening charges a one-time, per plant cost for installing an orchard. For this one time cost, community groups will receive:
- The plant
- Support stakes or poles as needed
- Soil amendments during planting (ex: mycorrhizae, sulfur)
- Additional soil as needed
- Wood chip mulch
- Tree wraps
The per plant costs vary depending on the size and type of plant installed.
- $50 per tree and “shrubby tree” (Ex: pomegranate)
- $25 per shrub and vine (Ex: currant, serviceberry, grape, kiwi)
- $5 per cane fruit (Ex: blackberry, raspberry)
- $75 per 25-foot trellis to support blackberries, grapes, and kiwis.
*Plant costs are subject to change from year to year as production costs vary. Gateway Greening will never change the cost of an individual orchard install after reaching an agreement with a community organization.
Gateway Greening will send an invoice after the Giving Grove Orchard is fully installed. No payment is due until the invoice is received.
Learning to Care for a Giving Grove Orchard
Proper care and maintenance are important for the long-term health and productivity of any orchard. That is why we will be offering ongoing, free education for anyone who wishes to learn more about orchard care. To see specific workshop dates and locations, please visit our Event Calendar.
Our Annual class series will cover seasonally relevant topics just as you need them throughout the year:
- Dormant Pruning Workshop – March
- Pest Management – April
- Preparing for Harvest – June
- Summer Pruning – August
Gateway Greening’s support for your community-led project doesn’t end with the orchard’s installation. Giving Grove Orchards are welcome to attend our ongoing educational classes, and also to request or utilize:
- Site visits and technical expertise
- Spray ingredients
- Limb spreaders
- Gateway Greening’s Tool Loan Program (includes orchard supplies)
- All other benefits of belonging to the Gateway Greening Network