Hales Corners vies for fruity trees through Victory Garden Initiative

Published on: 2/2/2016

Hales Corners — An orchard of trees bearing fruit and nuts could take root on two lots in Hales Corners.

That's assuming the village wins the trees in Fruity Nutty 5 orchard contest.

The village authorized Sarah Kastern of the Hales Corners Environmental Committee to submit the application for 20 trees to be planted in two vacant lots in the village at a Jan. 25 board of trustees meeting.

"That area needs some improvement," said Village President Robert Ruesch. "Those houses were taken down years ago."

The Victory Garden Initiative is hosting a fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 20, to raise money for the five new orchards to be awarded in the 2016 contest. The winners will be announced at the event, held at the historic Villa Filomena, 1119 N. Marshall St., Milwaukee. Tickets are $70 per person or $525 for a thicket of eight tickets. The event features a complimentary cocktail hour, live music and food from local restaurants and caterers.

If the village prevails, the trees would be planted on lots totaling one acre a block and a half east of Hales Corners Elementary, north of Parnell Avenue and adjacent to North Branch Whitnall Park Creek. According to a letter from Village Administrator Michael Weber, that parcel was transferred to the village as part of a flood control program.

Kastern said that while there is no program currently in place for an outdoor classroom, that could be an option for the school if these trees are planted.

Kastern said applicants can request up to 30 fruit and nut trees, but the village was looking for 20. The village's request includes apple, pear, plum, cherry, hazelnut, apricot, and peach trees. She said if residents were interested in getting a tree or two themselves, that could possibly be arranged.

"I felt it was a great opportunity to use space," she said.

This campaign, through the Victory Garden Initiative, promotes planting fruit and nut trees in both residential areas and parks. It also encourages the creation of neighborhood orchards and "food forests" throughout the city of Milwaukee, according to the contest's official page. Five Milwaukee-area neighborhoods can win an orchard for their community.

"By planting fruit and nut trees, our goal is to protect the environment, improve public health, and strengthen our community," the contest site reads.

It continues, saying that on a given block there is a need for two of any type of fruit and nut tree to be able to achieve cross-pollination. It states that "fruit trees, like people we believe, need one another to thrive."

Kastern said a local scout troop is willing to help plant the trees and maintain them. Victory Garden Initiative also offers educational workshops to help learn about the trees and how to care for them, she said.

Village Trustee Daniel Besson said the orchard idea "is a great community project to get the neighborhood involved."