The benefits of planting fruit-bearing trees at more of LINC’s partner schools will be plain enough to the children who will tend to them.
It’s an easy sell, said The Giving Grove’s chief executive officer, Ron Reiman, speaking at the LINC commission meeting May 13.
“You talk with the children about this notion of growing your own healthy food . . . and sharing it with the community around them,” Reiman said. “They’re getting excited about reconnecting with nature . . . building and strengthening their community . . . in a way where we take care of the planet that we live on.”
And then on top of it all, Reiman said, recalling a follow-up question from a boy when Center Elementary School started an orchard four years ago, all the fruit they pick for themselves is free?
Reiman’s response to the young gardener: “You got it!”
Since 2013, The Giving Grove has worked with partner schools and community organizations across the area to plant 176 orchards totaling some 3,000 tress — including projects at seven schools with LINC programs.
With the help of new U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency Local Environmental Education Subaward grants, the Giving Grove hopes to expand to seven more schools that partner with LINC.
Schools already with Giving Grove projects are Hale Cook Elementary School since 2013, Center Elementary School since 2014, the Richardson and Woodland early learning community schools and Compass Elementary School since 2015, Border Star Montessori School since 2016, and Grandview Middle School, which was the first school to win an EPA subaward grant in 2018.
Potential sites for new Giving Grove orchards are King, Trailwoods, Buckner, Elm Grove, Warford and Meadowmere elementary schools and the Ervin Early Learning Center.
The Giving Grove is a program of Kansas City Community Gardens, and some grove sites have gardens as well.
All of the sites have “great potential to influence their own community,” Reiman said.
An average site of 15 apple and pear trees will produce some 300 peck baskets a year, he said. He estimates an annual value of $9,775.