By Paul Edelman
Red Bridge Elementary School and St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church are some of the newest spots in south Kansas City where small orchards have been planted to help tackle hunger.
The orchards are sponsored by the Giving Grove, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that partners with churches, schools and other institutions to help at-risk communities grow, harvest and share healthy food.
Giving Grove orchards already are growing at the Red Bridge United Methodist Church, Barstow School, Avila University and other south locations. The two latest plantings—the elementary school at 10781 Oak St. and the Episcopal church at 100 E. Red Bridge Rd.—will add to the impact our area provides in supplying local food pantries with fresh produce.
Amanda Lindahl, community engagement coordinator for the Giving Grove, says a typical orchard has about 14 trees, with the most common fruits being apples, pears and Asian pears. Most planting is done in spring and fall, since the summer heat is not conducive to transferring young trees.
The Giving Grove was established in 2011 and became a program of the Kansas City Community Gardens in 2013. Since then the organization has expanded its projects rapidly throughout the entire metropolitan area. Lindahl says a key component in how they operate is to partner with churchgoers, students, neighborhood residents and other volunteers who agree to help with the manual labor and provide maintenance of the young trees, especially watering. Meanwhile, the Giving Grove offers logistical and botanical knowledge on how to grow a variety of fruit trees, nut trees and berry bushes.
“The main idea is to help communities in need grow their own food,” Lindahl says.
Ted Bell of St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church says they plan to harvest chestnuts, apples and Asian pears from 15 trees on their property when the orchard is mature. “Our mission is to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world in need,” he says.