2022 Vermont Fruit & Nut Tree Grant Report

November 17, 2022

Planting nut tree in field

The 2022 Vermont Fruit & Nut Tree Grant Program supported the purchase and successful planting and care of trees and shrubs for 20 grantee groups at 54 community growing sites across the state of Vermont. Site locations included schools, affordable housing communities, non-profits, community gardens, educational centers, a food co-op, and a library. Collectively, these locations supported people of all ages and backgrounds to grow food, learn about their natural environment, and connect with their neighbors. This grant program was made possible through a collaboration between the Vermont Garden Network and the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program, with additional funding from Branch Out Burlington.

More than 580 individuals and over 1,750 volunteer hours made the planting of an estimated 515 fruit and nut trees and shrubs possible, including help from students, staff, parents, community volunteers, residents, garden members, and others.

These community fruit and nut tree stewards set out to:

  • increase access to free fresh fruit for their community
  • bring the community together through a shared project
  • increase community “ownership” and care of communal plantings
  • provide a safe and comfortable place for people to enjoy nature
  • provide a space for students and community members to learn about growing food
  • educate the community about Black and Indigenous foodways
  • teach land stewardship, by helping people recognize their roles in our ecosystem
  • educate about climate change
  • plant things that benefit the greater natural community

Even early in the life of these new trees and shrubs, grantees shared that they have achieved some goals already, including:

Excitement for more community access to fresh fruit of their choice

“Getting black and brown folks a fruit tree of their choice. These plants tend to be more pricey than most plants and to be able to have the financial resources to be able to gift a tree to each of our fellows in our program is awesome.”

Community members taking leadership on the planting project and care

“The teamwork was fantastic to keep them well watered and pruned throughout the season. It was challenging during the hot weekends, where staff would come in to ensure they were hydrated, but everyone had a great understanding that we wanted the best start for our plants (like the kiddos we serve!).”

Students making connections between the planting project and classroom learning

“We have started a series of school workshops that focus on the history of apples, nutritional value of apples, and cooking with apples. Even though the trees are too young to produce, we are still using apples from other orchards to teach about the new plantings.”

Bringing the community together, including people who wouldn’t normally interact

“The biggest success was seeing the residents come together as a community with a shared purpose and goal. Residents who have never engaged with each other worked as a team to make this happen.”

Public participation, education and celebration

“This has been an absolute success. We involve many of our programs in caring for the pathway! Not only do our students and public engage with it through harvest and stewardship, but they have brought their own plants and wine cap mushrooms to contribute to the pathway. It has taken on a life of its own in so many wonderful ways.”

2022 Grant Recipients

  • Barton Community Giving Garden (Barton)
  • Bellows Falls Middle School Garden (Bellows Falls)
  • Champlain Elementary (Burlington)
  • Champlain Housing Trust (3 sites - Burlington, South Burlington, Colchester)
  • Conscious Homestead (14 sites - Winooski)
  • Edible Brattleboro (14 sites - Brattleboro)
  • Feast Farm (Montpelier)
  • Great River Terrace Community Garden (Brattleboro)
  • Green Acres Community Garden (Barre)
  • Guilford Central School Garden (Guilford)
  • Highgate Library Community Garden (Highgate)
  • Lamoille South UU: Morristown Elementary (Morrisville)
  • Milton High School Garden (Milton)
  • North Branch Nature Center (Montpelier)
  • RuralEdge: Mountain View Housing (St. Johnsbury)
  • Rutland County Parent Child Center (Brandon)
  • SUSU commUNITY Farm - Storyteller Garden (Brattleboro)
  • Vermont Farm and Forest School Learning Garden (Roxbury)
  • Willowell Edible Forest Pathway (Monkton)
  • Windsor Community Gardens (Windsor)