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Volunteers team to plant orchard in Rio Dell

The Rio Dell Community Garden tree planting event kicked off with a ceremonial ground breaking. From left: Brian Olson of the Rio Dell Community Resource Center, Lauren de la Parra of Dreyer’s, Jason Whitley of Food For People, Rio Dell Mayor Julie Woodall and Supervisor Clif Clendenen.More than 50 volunteers came out on Sunday, July 24th to help plant a fruit tree orchard at the Rio Dell Community Garden. Volunteers planted 19 fruit trees, 12 berry plants and vegetable starts, and installed deer fencing and an irrigation system at the garden.

Intended to address food security issues on the North Coast, the orchard came about from the Communities Take Root contest. A partnership between Dreyer’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Communities Take Root is a contest for nonprofits nationwide to win fruit trees.

The community garden is a collaborative effort, involving many community partners, including: St. Joseph Health – Humboldt County’s Rio Dell Community Resource Center; the Rio Dell Baptist Church; the Rio Dell Chamber of Chamber of Commerce; and the City of Rio Dell.

The event on Sunday featured a brief ceremony preceded the planting featuring comments from the Rio Dell Community Resource Center’s Brian Olson, Dreyer’s representative Lauren de la Parra, and arborist Rico Montenegro from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. Olson and de la Parra were then joined by Jason Whitley of Food For People, District Supervisor Clif Clendenen and Rio Dell Mayor Julie Woodall in a ceremonial tree planting, which kicked off the day’s work.

Boy Scouts of America Troop 6 from Scotia volunteered for the tree planting event in Rio Dell on Sunday.Volunteers got their hands dirty, beginning with planting the trees and then adding mulch and amendments to the soil. Afterwards, volunteers installed deer fencing, planted vegetable starts and laid out the irrigation for the newly planted orchard. Many of the volunteers were also people who voted for the community garden as it competed to win the orchard during the Communities Take Root contest.

At the end of the work day, volunteers learned about pruning and watering from Montenegro, an arborist, who emphasized the need to maintain the orchard over the next few years when it will begin producing fruit.

For more information about the Communities Take Root contest, visit www.communitiestakeroot.com.

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