As many of you know, I’m a city manager by profession. I’ve spent the last few months thinking about creating a grant program where our City government would purchase a large number of fruit trees at wholesale and then offer them to residents who live in the City Limits at a very low or perhaps even no cost at all. Clearly this would require me establishing a lot of guidelines, rules, limits, and so on, but I’ve already been working on those things. I even proposed it to City Council and convinced them it is a program that would create a lot of positive publicity for the City at a relatively low cost. Of course all of you can understand it’s also a great way for me to mix business with pleasure, but I honestly do believe it would be a great program with a lot of benefits to the City and the residents.
But before I move forward, I’d like very much to hear opinions from you folks. I also am hoping that you all may be aware of some existing fruit tree grant programs that you could refer me to so I could see how they work. SO if any of you are aware of any fruit tree grant programs- be it through government or private or non-profit organizations, please tell me where I can read about it. The only one I’ve found is called The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, and reading about it has been a huge help.
But I also am extremely interested in any thoughts or recommendations any of you might have. Or if you think its even practical. I mean, we all know fruit trees are not for everyone and are much more difficult and complicated than just giving someone a maple or oak tree to plant. I could limit the varieties to just pear and apple since those are probably the least difficult for beginners, but even apples require some work. My thoughts are to limit each household to just 2 trees. Without knowing how many people may accept them I’m afraid to offer any more due to potential costs. I also plan to give a detailed “instruction sheet” with each grant. I think I’ll require everyone who accepts a tree to sign a contract saying they will allow me or someone to come onto their property twice a year to take photos of the trees, inspect them, and offer assistance.
I’ve already developed a draft of a press release detailing the grant program, listing several good reasons why planting fruit trees is good for the town, and so on…but I’m a long way from a final draft or sending it out. I really want to hear from you all. If you think its just a bad idea, you can say so. If you think its a neat program but you have some thoughts on what it should and should not include, I’d really love to hear those opinions.
I know this is a long and somewhat unusual post/thread, but this is important to me and I firmly believe that no one in the world would be better to help me with this project than the experts right here on Growingfruit.org! I’m pretty excited about the idea and think it really has potential to be an amazing grant program with major benefits to the community and really will get some positive attention from other cities as well as the residents of my own. But I want to get it right. So what say you? Is it hopeless to expect the average family to take the time and interest and work to grow a successful fruit tree? At the very least I feel like most families will end up with 2 new trees and even if they never get good fruit, the distribution and planting of hundreds of new trees is still a very good thing. But maybe that’s just me? All thoughts and comments appreciated! Thanks. Kevin