Urban Orchard Plan - I Avenue & 21st Street

5/6/2013 3:57:00 AM - article written by Sara Kovach and provided compliments of the Courier-Times local newspaper
Urban orchard planned for New Castle
New Castle Pride plans to restore city beautification
The newly formed nonprofit group New Castle Pride plans to build an urban orchard at the corner of I Avenue and 21st Street, the former Chrysler parking lot.

Brian Riggs, group director and associate pastor at Memorial Wesleyan Church, said the orchard will feature edible bushes and trees, bearing fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, apples, pears, cherries and peaches.

"We want to plant an urban orchard to help restore those blighted, vacant areas in neighborhoods and bring back more green spaces," Riggs said.

Riggs said all plants are self-pollinating, drought resistant and require low maintenance. The idea is the orchard will not become a burden for the public.

"A low amount of upkeep will be needed for the orchard," Riggs said. "We plan to have youth groups or other small groups help pickup trash along the orchard and do some minimal pruning."

Riggs said the half circular layout represents the wheel, New Castle's auto industry. Rose hip bushes will be planted within the circle, which bear fruit containing more Vitamin C than a glass of orange juice.

He said work has already been done cleaning up the area for the orchard. In May, the group plans to prepare and till the soil for planting.

"We had a soil test done and had a green light to go ahead with the project," Riggs said. "We now are looking to borrow equipment for a few hours to remove the extra concrete and top soil. We plan to build pathways and fill the area with environment friendly gravel - no grass will be planted."

Riggs said he would like to thank New Castle Pride co-founder Russell Dishman, Hudson Tool Rental, the Three Rivers Solid Waste Management District and non-profit organization the Hope Initiative for helping to get the project moving forward.

"We have gathered about $1,000 already for the project," Riggs said. "I'm just very excited that when I present our idea, we get a very positive response from the public every time. This urban orchard really will help beautify our city."

Riggs said if anyone is interested funding the urban orchard project, donations can be sent to Memorial Wesleyan Church, 115 Fairway Drive, New Castle.