Volunteers plant fruit trees and bushes at Little Prairie Donation Garden to fight hunger in Lawrence | News, Sports, Jobs

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photo by: Elvyn jones

Volunteers plant fruit and cherry trees on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at Little Prairie Donation Garden in Peterson Park.

As she spread mulch around a newly planted fruit tree in the Little Prairie Donation Garden in Peterson Park on Saturday, Yuliya Platkowski said she was happy to lend her green thumb to a task that will help reduce hunger in Lawrence.

“It’s a good thing, isn’t it?” she asked. “This is the place to be this morning. I love working in my flower garden, but it’s such a great cause.

photo by: Elvyn jones

Yuliya Platkowski spreads mulch around the base of a newly planted fruit tree on Saturday, October 23, 2021, in the Little Prairie Donation Garden in Peterson Park.

The Donation Garden secured 17 fruit trees – apples, pears, and jujubes – from The Giving Grove, a Kansas City-based nonprofit, as well as 10 cherry trees. About 20 volunteers showed up at Peterson Park on Saturday to plant them. Sarah Sikich, communications manager for The Giving Grove, said when the plants mature they will provide fruit to Just Food and other nonprofits fighting hunger in Lawrence.

However, it will be a few years before the trees start to help feed people. Matt Bunch, a horticulturalist at Giving Grove, said the 3-year-old trees planted on Saturday would not bear fruit for three years and would not reach their full production level until two to three years later. He said all trees and shrubs were hardy, drought-tolerant varieties that should thrive in the local climate.

Sikich said Saturday’s event was part of an effort by The Giving Grove and the Caterpillar Foundation to plant 100 fruit trees for Kansas community orchards. According to Bunch, the partnership with the Donation Garden is the first time The Giving Grove has provided trees to Lawrence.

Darin Brunin, one of the organizers of the Donation Garden, said the orchard would fit well with other garden activities that help food insecure people.

“These trees and shrubs are all going to be big producers,” he said. “It’s going to be wonderful.”

Over the next two years, the flowers from the trees will be pinched to help stimulate growth, Bunch said. He expects apple trees to produce about 100 pounds of fruit in three years and 280 pounds in four years.


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