On Thursday, March 30, two groups of volunteers joined City Fruit at McAuliffe Park in Kirkland to plant 23 fruit trees and 8 berry bushes. McAuliffe hosts a playground, picnic spaces, large green spaces, and a P-Patch garden managed by Tilth Alliance. The new fruit trees and shrubs join the dozen or so heritage fruit trees and vines already at McAuliffe and will serve as a community resource for generations to come. City Fruit has partnered with the City of Kirkland over the last two years to care for and educate others on the care of the original fruit trees, and we are glad to continue our work in Kirkland by adding more trees to McAuliffe.
A variety of berries were planted, ranging from aronia berry, mulberry, olallieberry, pink and white currant, and more! The berry patch was planted on a bare hillside by the playground tin the hopes that children would one day forage the berries and be excited about fruit in the park. The fruit trees were distributed in space around the park. Some were planted along the fence line entering the park; a row of espalier pears were planted along a log fence by the current apple orchard; and several trees were planted in spaces where heritage trees had become diseased or had failed over the last two years.
McAuliffe already had many apple varieties, a couple of fig trees, a grape vine, and some pears. To add diversity to the current offerings, City Fruit planted two different varieties of Asian plums (Shiro and Hollywood), a contorted mulberry tree, a pineapple quince, a honeycrisp apple, two 4-in-1 fruit cocktails (which are trees with various combinations of of Frost Peach, Puget Gold Apricot, Hardy Red Nectarine, Stella Cherry, Italian Prune, Lapin Cherry), two cotton-candy apriums (apricot-plum hybrid), two sweet Fuyu persimmons, one Izu persimmon, and six espaliered 3-tier combinations of Asian Pear.
City Fruit was happy to welcome two groups to help with our planting work. The morning group consisted of thirteen UCLA alt-Breakstudents who arrived to assist in planting the berry bushes, the two Asian plums, and the mulberry on the west side of the park by the children’s playground. Our Volunteer and Education Programs Manager Tiare Gill had met with the students prior to the planting to tell them about our work as part of the larger food system, and they were excited to spend some of their Spring Break planting with us. Some shivers and teeth chattering occurred as the sun had yet to make its appearance that morning, but as the planting came underway and the clouds parted, we were able to finish in under an hour! Some of the reflections from a few of the students entailed being surprised with how much urban food growth is in the city, and being excited to perhaps one day come back and visit the orchard they took part in establishing together.
After lunch, a mix of 15 volunteers from our corporate partner, Salesforce, and community volunteers from Kirkland and Seattle and 4 volunteers working with Tilth Alliance joined us to plant the remaining trees throughout the park. Volunteers were shown how to spread the root ball of the tree and to plant deep enough to cover the roots (but not so much as to get cover the root flare!). Those planting espaliers learned how to align branches with the logs to support their growth.
We are extremely excited and grateful to be able to nurture these trees into adulthood and watch them serve as nutritious, accessible fruit for the surrounding community! If you’re interested in volunteering at this orchard with us in the future, below are some upcoming events: