As a part of our efforts to make locally grown fruit more accessible, in 2023 City Fruit is helping to add more fruit trees by planting two new orchards in Seattle. On Tuesday, November 15th, City Fruit staff led a group of volunteers from our corporate partner, Salesforce, in a mulching and restoration project to start laying the foundation of the Trolls Knolls orchard! The new orchard, located in Fremont, will be one of two that City Fruit will be helping to plant in 2023, with the other one being at High Point’s Pond Park.
Seven volunteers arrived at 1 pm to start the process of digging, whacking, and pulling up what was left of some blackberry bushes, followed by laying down cardboard sheets, sourced from Ballard Consignment Store. After the mulching, we began the process of spreading out Zoo Doo compost, donated to us by Woodland Park Zoo, to secure the cardboard underneath and prepare the soil for the winter ahead. The work party wrapped up around 3 pm – and we were all a little surprised with how much progress we made in just two hours! Go team!
You may be wondering: why mulch? There are many benefits to mulching your soil if you’re planting fruits and vegetables in your garden. Laying down a bed of organic matter over the soil you want to plant in best prepares it for stocking up on micronutrients and moisture, and preventing weed and pest growth. The blackberry bushes, for example, are extremely invasive and dangerous to fruit tree growth and health. The sheet mulching will help kill what is left of the bushes to ensure that there are no remnants left behind that could potentially damage the fruit trees later on. This is something that City Fruit will be monitoring in the orchard going forward as we continue to steward the space so that we ensure no invasive species grow back and pose a risk to the orchard. We chose to lay cardboard and compost over the space, but you can also wood chips and manure. By Spring of 2023, the soil at Trolls Knolls should be in ideal condition for our tree planting.
The idea for the orchard came from tree owner and member of the Fremont Community Council, Leo Griffin, who wanted City Fruit’s input on the fruit trees at Troll’s Knolls. Troll’s Knolls already has three apple trees on the other side of the bridge and is home to one of many Seattle P-Patches. Executive Director Annie Nguyen met with lead gardeners from the Troll’s Knolls P-Patch to identify a good space to add a few grafted apples that we started to grow back in April. After reviewing spaces for potential planting and getting permission from the city to add an orchard, the gardeners said they wanted to plant trees in the hillside along the access ramp to the P-Patch The issue was clearing the blackberry bushes. While the gardeners thought they needed time to secure funds to pay a landscaper to remove the bushes, City Fruit was able to connect our corporate volunteers, securing funding from Salesforce to help with the tools, time, and labor it took to do the work.
This project was led by community members who were interested in City Fruit’s work with fruit trees and wanted to expand resources in their neighborhood. City Fruit is proud to support community needs with access to public-private resources and fruit tree knowledge that can help develop public spaces within orchards. In spring, we anticipate continuing to help Troll’s Knolls with adding in fruit trees that will thrive in the space and to help steward the trees in the future. As a central spot that is frequented by guests to the Fremont Troll, we hope that this orchard will serve the surrounding community as a place where neighbors and guests can come and enjoy locally grown fruit.