GLIDE — More than three dozen fruit trees arrived earlier than expected at Mary Brown’s door last week, and they had to be put in the ground quickly.
Brown, volunteer garden coordinator at Glide Elementary School, ordered the trees months ago but didn’t know exactly when they would come.
She rallied volunteers to meet at Glide Elementary School on Friday morning to plant an orchard. Brown said she hopes the orchard can eventually produce fruit for the school cafeteria and teach students how to tend trees and how nature produces fruit.
“Just knowing puts them one step ahead for providing for themselves,” she said. “The eventual plan is to serve incredibly healthy food to kids and to grow it themselves.”
Approximately 20 people placed the 39 saplings in holes, poured in steer manure, filled the holes with loose dirt and sprayed water on top.
Brown bought the trees and supplies for a fence with a $3,800 grant from Lowe’s Tool Box for Education fund.
Community members also donated time and money.
Terry Tinker of Glide dug the holes for the trees, and Josh Murphy dug the holes for the fence posts.
Volunteers drove the posts into the ground and built a fence around the orchard a month ago.
On Friday, the crew planted plums, pears, Asian pears and a variety of apples. Trees that will bear fruit during the school year were chosen so students can pick the fruit and take it home.
Students will pull weeds, place wood chips and do general upkeep of the orchard on lunch breaks.
“It’s always exciting to see people learning to see nature grow and science work,” Brown said. “It’s very empowering to have a garden and to have kids do real work and accomplish something.”
Brown also oversees a school garden that was started a few years ago. The garden grows peas, cilantro, raspberries, kiwis, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and other produce, which students take home to eat.
She recently received a $5,000 grant from the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe to hire a part-time coordinator for the orchard and the garden.
Grants from the Oregon State University Extension Office, 4-H and the Ben Serafin Fund helped start the garden.
Sixth-grade student Tessa Trimble, 10, helps tend the garden and planted trees Friday.
“I can’t wait until summer to see what fruit and vegetables we get,” she said.
Third-grader Kelden Ainslie, 8, broke up the ground with a pick ax before shoveling it into a hole to bury the sapling roots.
His mother, Stacy Ainslie, said she enjoys gardening and was having fun planting trees.
“Anytime I’m outside I’m happy,” the 36-year-old said. “I think it’s wonderful that the school will hopefully be able to use the food from the orchard to feed the kids.”
Sisters Erin and Caitlin Brechtel teamed up to put trees in the ground. Caitlin, 12, placed the sapling and shoveled dirt, while Erin, 8, watered the freshly planted tree.
Brown said the school, and especially maintenance workers, have been exceptionally supportive.
“We can’t do it without the support of the maintenance people,” she said.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.