(l-r) In this picture from 2010, Tarn Mower and Ross Gay turn a mound of compost, which is used to amend the orchard’s soil. Photo by Kayte Young

The Bloomington Community Orchard still grows fruit, resilience, and community 10 years after a partnership between the City of Bloomington and a group of enthusiastic citizens turned one acre of public space into an educational park and food forest.

In a press release announcing the all-volunteer nonprofit organization’s anniversary, Ashley Thomas, vice chair its board of directors, says, “We knew the vision for a shared public space with freely accessible food for all was something the community would find interesting, but I never imagined how far our model would go to inspire people from around the world looking to grow something similar in their own regions.” 

Josh David, board chair, adds: “The first few years were focused almost exclusively on site cultivation and community building, which then led to more programming across Bloomington. It was only when we started receiving requests for help from communities around the country and world (like Canada, Italy, Australia, and even Yemen) that we knew we had something unique here in Bloomington that had the potential to help inspire similar initiatives globally.”

This year, the orchard expects to launch a new website with on-demand resources for those interested in growing their own fruit trees through organic methods. It will also create a “How to Start a Community Orchard” handbook to be shared around the world. 

An anniversary party was held February 22 to thank the community and its volunteers.

For more information, visit bloomingtoncommunityorchard.org.