The City of Goshen has been awarded a $30,000 Community Resilience Grant through the Arbor Day Foundation with corporate sponsorship from Enterprise Holdings Foundation. The grant funds are to be used for the creation of a community orchard at Abshire Park.
The initial idea for a community orchard was raised by Patrick Coonan, a Goshen resident and urban forager who would like to see Goshen residents take advantage of more of the fruit and nut crops growing around us. He presented the idea of an orchard to the Goshen Park Board in 2018, and the Goshen Park Department began the work to envision space for such a project. “The idea behind a community orchard is to create a gathering space where Goshen residents can discover new types of edible fruit and nuts, learn how to care for these plants, and share in the harvest,” says Coonan.
In the spring of 2019 a grant application was submitted to the Arbor Day Foundation for funding to build Goshen’s first community orchard. In October, the funding was confirmed, and an initial planting event with volunteers from the Goshen community and from Enterprise Holdings Foundation is scheduled at Abshire Park for November 25.
The Abshire Park location was chosen for several reasons, beyond the fact that there is ample space for the orchard. The cabin at the park has a fully functional kitchen which can be used for food processing and demonstration events. The park is also a trail head for the Pumpkinvine Bike Route, and is a major thoroughfare for bike routes throughout Goshen.
Keona Koster, Program Coordinator for the Arbor Day Foundation, said, “Goshen’s community orchard project was highly rated by our teams in components including the resilience story, community engagement, connection to a larger plan, impact, and imagination.” Enterprise Holdings Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, which, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. In 2018 Enterprise Holdings Foundation provided a $2 million investment for the Arbor Day Foundation’s Urban Tree Initiative, which furthers the Enterprise commitment to support communities now and into the future.
The orchard will include native plants like paw paw and persimmon trees, beech plum bushes and elderberry shrubs, along with some more familiar plants like apples, pears, cherries and blueberries. Next spring, more exotic plants that are suited to our climate in northern Indiana will be added to the mix. Seaberry plants dotted with bright orange berries will form a colorful hedge along the southern entrance of the orchard. Honeyberry, blueberry and currant plants will be incorporated throughout the orchard. Hazelnut shrubs, chestnut trees, Korean pines will add edible nuts to the mix. The plantings will count towards Goshen’s urban tree canopy goal of 45% by 2045, will sequester carbon dioxide, will serve as a point of community interaction, and will provide nutritious foods over time.
The project has brought together many different individuals and groups from the community and beyond, including Memorial High School (Elkhart) students, Horizon Education Alliance, Luke Gascho (a local food forest experiementer), Trees For Goshen, the Community Orchard Project, the Community Resilience Guild, the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department, and many volunteers who will help plant trees.