Pasture of Plenty

“This is a really nice hole,” someone said. Meaning, from the perspective of a fruit tree, a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, and shallow enough to leave the “trunk flare” exposed.

Molly Ladd ’09 pointed out the flare, a swelling on the trunk of a young peach tree she was holding, to the people standing around the really nice hole. The dozen-plus volunteers convened by Ladd and Andie Bisceglia ’09 on a brilliant, windy May afternoon included Bates students and a professor, and members of the nonprofit organization Lots to Gardens. The task: planting apple, peach, pear, and cherry trees, grapevines, and raspberry and blueberry bushes at Franklin Pasture, a piece of city land a few blocks from Bates.

Ladd and Bisceglia assembled $1,500 in grants, including $500 from the Bates College Museum of Art’s Green Horizons initiative, to create this urban orchard. Lots to Gardens, which Kirsten Walter ’00 founded to involve young people in community gardening projects, will tend the orchard and distribute its produce through farmers’ markets and community harvest dinners.

The College’s removal of some 80 trees lining Andrews Road during Alumni Walk construction in December spurred Ladd and Bisceglia to action. Instead of just griping about it, Bisceglia explained, “we were like, ‘We’ll do something positive and make our outlet be the orchard.’”

The pair, both experienced farmhands, were excited about adding fruit to the vegetable-heavy Lots to Gardens output. But they saw another benefit in this initiative born of indignation. “We’re helping to establish an oasis,” said Ladd, “where people can go to escape the city and find a little beauty.”