College to plant apple orchard on campus, donate fruit to community

Higher Learning Commission

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS – On Oct. 5, Inver Hills Community College will take its efforts to produce healthy foods for those in need to the next level – with the planting of a 50-tree apple orchard.

The orchard is an extension of the Inver Hills Community College-Metropolitan State University Interdisciplinary Community Garden, which was established in the spring of 2012 on the Inver Hills campus and is maintained by students, faculty, staff and community members. The garden generates produce for local food shelves, as well as for individual students and community members who grow produce for personal use in reserved plots.

By mid-September, the garden had produced more than 1,300 lbs of fresh, pesticide-free produce that was donated to local families in need.
The public is invited to attend an orchard groundbreaking event and help plant the apple trees from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. Arborist Rico Montenegro of The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation will provide an orientation for instruction on planting, pruning and care of the trees. Volunteers from the local Fruits of the City Program also will be on hand.

The garden and orchard project is led by Inver Hills Psychology Professor Barb Curchack, Ph.D., and Metro State Psychology Professor August Hoffman, Ph.D. Students from both institutions have worked in the garden and orchard as volunteers, as well as through service learning projects. The orchard was made possible by a grant from The Fruit Tree Foundation. Wood chip for the orchard was donated by The Mulch Store, and soil was donated by Farrill’s Sunrise Nursery. Local businesses Gertens and Home Depot provided additional assistance in the form of discounted goods and professional advice.
The community garden is located on the south side of the Inver Hills campus, directly behind Heritage Hall. To get there, park in either the South or College Center parking lot, and follow the outdoor stairs between Heritage Hall and the Business building. Continue along the path behind Heritage Hall to the garden.

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