Thanks to the Community Garden, a fruit orchard will soon be growing in Dunwoody's Brook Run Park.
The Community Garden won the orchard last week in the Communities Take Root national competition. The program, which is supported by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, awards fruit orchards to communities across the country as a way to beautify and strengthen communities and to encourage healthy eating habits.
The Community Garden received 33,655 votes and finished in third place in second round voting that ended Monday night. The first three winners in this round received more votes than any of the five first round winners, which means the Community Garden has received the third most votes of all the gardens in the competition to this point. The second round winners, of course, had a month longer to court votes than the first round winners.
There are two more rounds of voting. Third round winners will be named August 1 and fourth round winners will be announced after voting ends on Aug. 30.
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation will contact Community Garden Board member Nicole Maslanka to discuss next steps and schedule a date for the orchard groundbreaking. Maslanka led the effort to enter the contest and to develop the winning strategy.
The Community Garden plans to plant the orchard in front and to the sides of the fenced-in vegetable plots in Brook Run Park, said Maslanka. Garden leaders have begun organizing a group to plan the tree selection, orchard planning and coordinate the planting date. The city has assured the Community Garden that the orchard will have a permanent home at the site, according to Maslanka.
“One of our major goals as a garden at this time is building community within and outside the garden,” Maslanka said. “This competition has strengthened us as a community garden and demonstrated that we have the dedication of caring and committed members worthy of national recognition.”
“In just short of three years, we have gone from a vacant lot on an unwanted piece of property owned by the county to one of the biggest community gardens in the state,” said Garden President Don Converse. “I think this success in winning an orchard is one of many successes we have had and will have in the future.
“Consider this,” he continued. “There were six other sites in Georgia that were selected to participate in this contest. As of this morning (July 4), those other six have a combined voting total of 2,036 votes. That's about 6 percent of the votes we got for our garden. That didn't happen by luck. A lot of people put in many hours to drive this thing to success.”
Maslanka estimates that in the two and a half months of the contest that it took to win the orchard, garden volunteers and their supporters spent 550 hours or more in voting. Those supporters, she emphasized, stretched around the world. The global outreach by the garden leaders resulted in more than 4,500 visits to the Community Garden’s website from people in cities, towns and villages in 39 countries on six of the seven continents, according to web analytics of the voting patterns supplied by Maslanka.
In addition to the garden members who spent many hours at their computers voting, other groups and individuals that provided a broad base of support in various ways included:
- The Dunwoody Women’s Club
- The Dunwoody Garden Club
- Firefighters from Station 18
- Dunwoody bloggers
- Family and friends of Community Garden members across the country
- The City of Dunwoody
As a sign of continuing support from the city, Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, City Council District 2, said after a victory celebration at the garden last week that she would like to write a resolution from the City Council acknowledging the opening of the fruit orchard once it is planted. “We could have a ribbon cutting ceremony or the sounding of the gong once again,” said Bonser. “This is very exciting!”