Art meets civic action in a project launched this month in Boston that focuses on community and environmental health — and apples. The Boston Tree Party’s goal is to improve urban areas by planting 100 pairs of heirloom apple trees across Boston with the help of citizen groups of all kinds. Participating tree party delegations — faith organizations, schools, hospitals, businesses and other community groups — receive an apple planting kit and access to apple experts, aka pomologists, to learn how to care for their mini-orchards. Groups that have access to land to plant partner with those who don’t.
The symbolism of the project is not lost on Boston; apple seeds were first imported by the colonists in the early 17th century. The heirloom trees are planted in pairs in order to cross-pollinate and bear fruit, just as communities must reach across divisions to cooperate and thrive.
The civic orchard project is the brainchild of artist Lisa Gross. At the April 10 opening ceremony, she said, “These trees will not care for themselves. They will require love, attention, and stewardship. That is why we are not just plopping down trees willy-nilly through the city. We are starting with communities … who want to plant and care for these trees.” Plantings will happen across Boston on Arbor Day, April 29. Some 30 community groups have already signed on as delegations, with more expected.
The Project’s website points to the myriad benefits of planting trees in urban spaces, including access to fresh fruit, cleaner air, new habitat for birds and bees, and the creation of a community gathering space that is ideal for experiential learning.
The Tree Party does not end with planting. Five years from now, a harvest festival is planned, where nature and community will be celebrated with the sweet fruits of this project’s labor.
Photo: Boston Tree Party logo