The Public Orchard at the Downtown Greenway “Tradition Cornerstone”

Orchard - April 2016The Edible Orchard at the Meeting Place, near corner of Smith and Hill Streets on the Downtown Greenway at the Tradition Cornerstone is the first public orchard in Greensboro.

When the Downtown Greenway first approached us about creating a community orchard at the Tradition Cornerstone, we knew it had to be something rich, diverse, and easy to care for. And we knew that permaculture was the answer.

The community orchard at Meeting place follows the classic permaculture design system, and imitates naturally occurring patterns. So each tree has a complex understory that results in a lush, multi-layered, low-maintenance, and productive fruit-growing perennial orchard. Greensboro’s community orchard is also organic, disease resistant, productive, and beautiful.

To give the newly planted orchard a fuller look, we included two large Redbuds (easily obtained at nearby nurseries, and they function as nitrogen-fixers for the surrounding trees) and a few other semi-established trees about five to six feet tall.

Most of the dwarf fruit trees require a ten-foot circle, and the bushes require less space. Bush fruit grows very quickly, and may be quite profuse to begin with. Most grow to eight feet and will fit the scale of the fruit trees.
A majority of new plantings will fill out the garden, and we’ll need to add more later to fill out the space a little more. A diverse, stacked, and functional understory will add to the site’s aesthetic appeal and its ability to fend off insects and disease while building and breaking up the soil. The understory plantings can include bulbs, herbs, and members of the umbelliferous (Queen Anne’s lace) and composite (daisy) families of flowers. These selections will add both first-year color and volume. Most importantly, we’ve biased the selections toward native North Carolina plant species.

Here’s a list of what you’ll see—and can harvest—at Greensboro’s community garden at Meeting Place:

Feel free to stop by anytime and harvest some of the fruit, vegetables, and herbs for your cooking or just to eat fresh. We just ask that you leave some for others to enjoy as well.

Dwarf Plum (2): Hollywood and Aycock, 10-12’
Oriental Persimmon (1): Icki Jiro, non-astringent, 12’
Fig (1): Celeste, 8’
European Pear (2): Magness and Warren, semi-dwarf, 18’
Pawpaw (2): 12’
Sour Cherry (2): Northstar, Montmerency
Cornelian Cherry, an edible dogwood (1): Elegant, 8-10’
Redbud (2): nitrogen-fixing

Pomegranate: Wonderful, 8’
Korean Bush Cherry: 7’
June/Serviceberry: 8’ Silverberry: Hybrid
Silverberry, 6’
Filbert: Jefferson, 10’
Elderberry: 6-8’

Hops: For top, concrete, and fence, 70’
Hardy Kiwi: Issai (self-fertile): For bottom fence, 60’(?)
Grapes: Scuppernong: For bottom fence, 60’(?)

Understory Plants
Groundcover: Ajuga, Strawberry, Pennyroyal, White Clover, Dwarf Comfrey, Stonecrop
Herbs: Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme, Oregano
Herbaceous: Comfrey, Tansy, Anise Hyssop, Dandelion, Queen Anne’s Lace, Daffodil
Other composite and other umbelliferous: Garlic, Onion

For your own planting projects at home, the best time to buy local plants is in spring. And you can order plants/bulbs by mail in either spring or fall. The best planting times are when it’s cold—again, either early spring or late fall. We also recommend using a top-quality soil, ensuring a nearby water hookup, and creating accessibility paths with woodchips.

Learn more about this project:

Initial Installation of Plants:  This post includes pictures from the installation. [ click here to view ]