Audrey, a volunteer, mulching an apple tree with straw in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard in Toronto
It’s spring. Our fruit trees are growing. And while we humans need a hearty breakfast to help fuel us for the day, fruit trees also need a good meal at the start of their growing season. That’s because, after emerging from dormancy, they are preparing for an action-filled time in which they will grow leaves, blossoms and branches and produce a harvest for us to enjoy. We can help them along by amending their soil with nutrient-rich mulch.
Grade 1 students sketching a cherry tree in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard
On a Friday in May, a flock of six-year-olds filled Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard. They had come with their grade one teacher, and their mission was to sketch our blossoming fruit trees. The youngsters broke off in twos and threes and each chose a tree to draw. They touched the bark, checked out the blossoms, and then chose a vantage point for their sketch.
Agincourt Community Services Volunteer painting fruit tree trunks white in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard in Toronto
Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard became just a little bit more beautiful last Sunday, July 27th. Our fruit trees got a little extra tender loving care as 14 fantastic volunteers from Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) came to help paint the trunks of Ben Nobleman’s fruit trees with white latex paint.
As Orchard Coordinator and fruit tree care book author Susan Poizner explained to the Mandarin-speaking group through two translators, painting the trees white doesn’t just look nice – it’s one way that organic orchardists protect their trees from insect damage because insects have trouble crawling up the shiny surface of the painted trunk and the reflective glare of the white surface also discourages them from approaching.
Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard volunteer Lynn Nicholas prepares diluted paint for the fruit tree trunks
Using ordinary white latex paint from the local paint store, Ben Nobleman’s Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator, Lynn Nicholas, helped the volunteers dilute the paint – with 50 percent paint and 50 percent water, and sent them off into the orchard to paint the tree trunks from the ground up to each tree’s lowest branches.
The volunteers were fantastic! They bounded out into the orchard and meticulously painted each tree finishing the job in less than 20 minutes. Then Susan gave them a tour of the orchard and taught them about the hands-on aspect of fruit tree care and how important it is to choose the right tree if your orchard is to be successful – amongst the topics that she teaches about in her online workshops at www.urbanfruittree.com.
Susan ended the tour in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard’s beautiful pollinator garden and she gave each volunteers some fresh sage to take home as a way of remembering their visit. It was a wonderful day and we look forward to welcoming them back into our orchard next year! Or who knows, maybe next year the Ben Nobleman gang will come to visit them in their own orchard in Scarborough as the group is considering planting a community orchard there.
Thanks for coming to help us!
Agincourt Community Services Association volunteers pose with Susan Poizner (front row) and Lynn Nicholas (back row – both in blue BNPCO t-shirts) in the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard in Toronto.