West Virginia Fruit Trees

Two students finished planting one of the fruit trees.

Summary:

In the spring of 2011, the Green EDGE Fund granted the purchase of 35 fruit trees to be donated and planted in Coal River, West Virginia. The fruit trees will provide local and more sustainable fruit to residents of the community.

Background premise:

Janet Fiskio’s American Agricultures class went on a field trip to Coal River, West Virginia during the spring semester to perform community service work and build a connection between Oberlin College and Coal River through the Marsh River Fork Community Association of Naoma, WV.  This trip was coordinated between Janet, the students, and recent alum Emily Aarons, whom lives in Naoma and works at the community center.  It provided an opportunity for members of the class to visit and become exposed to the experiences of living in a ‘coal town.’  The trees were donated, with 20 of the 35 personally planted by Oberlin students, and the remaining 15 were given out to interested residents to plant where they saw fit.  The trees will provide local, free, and fresh apples, pears, plums, and peaches to residents and improve the aesthetics of the area.  Furthermore, the trees will act as carbon sinks over the course of their lifetime, improving both local and global sustainability.

Cost-benefit estimation:

The Green EDGE Fund allocated a sustainability grant of $482 for the purchase of 35 fruit trees.  Over the approximate 20-year lifetime of the trees, the estimated monetary savings from growing local fruit is $34,300.  The annual net carbon emission reduction from the trees is estimated at .033 tons CO2.

Additional benefits:

The production of local, organic fruit provides cheap and healthy food for residents.  This fruit will be free from pesticides, high food-mileage, and high-embodied energy from grocery store storage found in industrial food production.  The trees were purchased from Cummins Nursery in Geneva, NY, which is owned by an Oberlin alum.  Furthermore, the orchard may serve as an opportunity to create a more unified community.  The ecosystem of the field where the trees were planted may benefit.

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