Penn community to plant campus orchard at Penn Park

Members of the Penn community will soon be able to quite literally enjoy the fruits of their labor.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Facilities & Real Estate Services (FRES) will bring together University students, staff, faculty, and friends to plant a campus orchard on the southernmost edge of Penn Park.

“We aim to promote biodiversity and ecological environments through more productive plantings of natural habitats, and increase our biological pest control by attracting beneficial insects in order to mitigate pest and disease problems naturally,” says University Landscape Architect Bob Lundgren. “Fruit trees encourage beneficial insects, especially native bees, which are some of the most important pollinators in our landscape.”

After a brief introduction and planting demonstration at 1 p.m., volunteers will be asked to help dig holes and plant crops under the direction of FRES, along with staff from the Philadelphia Orchard Project, an organization tasked with helping community groups grow healthy food and establish food security. Gloves and tools will be provided for as many as 25 participants. Snacks, recipe cards, and information about each plant will be available for non-participating attendees.

The orchard will consist of a 200-by-20-foot space filled with 26 fruit trees and berry bushes, including paw paw, fig, apple, sweet cherry, pie cherry, peach, plum, pear, Asian pear, and shrubs such as flowering quince, goumi, currant/gooseberry, elderberry, and highbush blueberry. Some of the trees will not produce fruit for a few years, but plants such as blueberries and figs should start providing fruit next year. 

Throughout the year, FRES will maintain and monitor the orchard at every stage of growth. The research will inform future productive plantings at the orchard and in other parts of campus.

“This is an educational orchard intended for the Penn community, and as we move forward, we plan to partner with interested student and staff groups to come out and enjoy the harvest,” says FRES Landscape Planner Chloe Cerwinka.

The gathering will coincide with Penn food service provider Bon Appetit’s Sixth Annual Food Week, as well as the launch of Penn’s Climate Action Plan 2.0, the University’s commitment to renew and expand its environmental sustainability efforts—reduce its carbon footprint, engage its population, and expand sustainability-related research and coursework.

FRES recommends that volunteers wear casual clothes and shoes appropriate for gardening.  The event is scheduled to last for an hour and a half. The rain date is Friday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m.

To register, visit the Philadelphia Orchard Project website.

Penn Park Orchard