Posted: 10/29/2010 in the Elkhart Truth
By: Justin Leighty
GOSHEN -- Sonny Richardson has a green idea to help the poor.
He wants Goshen residents to come together and create a community orchard.
"It's going to be awesome," Richardson said. "There's all this open park land just sitting there, and all these people needing food. Why don't we get this community orchard going?"
Richardson came up with the community service idea in a leadership class. "I'm a tree person. I grow a lot of vegetables at home. It just seems like a waste to me to have all this empty park land sitting around, mowing grass," he said.
Aaron Sawatsky Kingsley, the city forester, said everything is very preliminary, but "I think it's a great idea.
"It's something that I'm aware of in typically larger cities that communities are doing. I think it's an idea that's slowly building, too," Kingsley said, adding that it takes organization and commitment to begin such a project.
Right now Richardson doesn't have a lot of specific plans -- he's looking for people to help make this happen -- but he makes up for it with enthusiasm.
"I'm just so excited. I want to get this thing going as quick as we can," he said.
Kingsley said there are lots of things to think about:" Location, varieties of trees and how the trees will be cared for. Still, "it's a fun thing to think about." He also suggested that area orchards could be a resource in helping guide the project.
Richardson said he's spoken with a tree trimmer and a local landscaper who've offered some education for volunteers. City officials have expressed interest, he said.
It takes years for fruit trees to produce food, according to Kingsley.
Still, Richardson said, once that happens, "We're really going to be feeding the poor. A lot of it could go to The Window or the Salvation Army."
He knows "there's going to be a lot of labor," but said, "Goshen is generous with people."
Richardson figures the community could get the orchard going within a year, he said.
Kingsley said if that happens, the idea has good potential "on several fronts. Food production, sustainability, resilience of certain towns, community building, those are all favorable things, or things that would argue in favor of community orchards."
WANT TO HELP?
If you'd like to pitch in, either helping organize the orchard or helping tend it once it's started, contact Sonny Richardson at 215-3082. Richardson also plans to set up an account at a local bank to accept donations.