March 8th, 2012

The Boston Tree Party: Urban Orchards Unite Communities

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Boston Tree Party


I was recently contacted by The Boston Tree Party and asked to help spread the word about their organization. How could I refuse? They are right here in my back yard in Boston and they’re working to promote urban agriculture, bringing together diverse communities and universal access to healthy food. They are helping to make Boston very green. Right up my alley!

What is The Boston Tree Party?

Boston Tree party Two

The Boston Tree Party is a collaborative campaign to plant pairs of heirloom apple trees in publicly used spaces across Greater Boston. They partner with elementary schools, universities, hospitals, assisted living centers, faith-based communities, libraries and more. The group of people who are behind this innovative concept are pretty darn impressive.

Together, these trees form a city-wide public urban orchard that crosses social, political, economic and geographic boundaries. These trees act as a catalyst to bring together diverse communities. The planting of these trees symbolizes a commitment to the environmental and community health of the city of Boston for all generations. By planting these trees they are taking a stand in support of universal access to fresh healthy food, for greening cities, and protecting biodiversity.

Why do they plant heirloom apple trees in pairs?

Apples are known to be a symbol of health and well-being. Apples are also connected to the history of Boston: The first apple orchard in the United States was planted on Beacon Hill, Boston by the first European settler, William Blackstone. They are making Boston a city of apples once again, but with new meaning.

Apples need to be planted in heterogeneous pairs to cross-pollinate and bear fruit.  You can’t just plant one apple tree and you can’t plant two of the same variety.  This biological fact has become the central metaphor of the project: We too can’t produce fruit alone, or with others just like ourselves.  We too must cross-pollinate to come up with new ideas and to make our world better.

What has The Boston Tree Party done so far?

Boston Tree Party Three

  • In 2011 they planted 70 heirloom apple trees (35 pairs) with over 50 different communities in the Boston area.
  • In about four years, these 70 trees will collectively start to produce between 10,000-15,000 free apples every year (hopefully organic)!
  • These trees can live anywhere from 50-100 years, so that’s a lot of free apples!

What’s on tap for 2012?

Registration is currently open for communities to sign-up and plant apple trees with The Boston Tree Party this spring. Deadline to sign-up: April 15, 2012

  • Delegations can include schools, churches, businesses, libraries, health centers, clubs & civic organizations, neighborhood/homeowner associations, etc. – very inclusive!
  • Delegations can be a partnership/combination of different organizations
    • i.e. If a Girl Scout troop wants to participate but doesn’t have access to land, they can partner with a school (who gains permission to plant fruit trees on their campus).
  • Requirements to join:
    • Access to two pieces of land that are each 15’ in diameter (they don’t have to be connected, but they do need to be within ¼ mile)
    • $325 to pay for trees, supplies, and support (financial assistance is available)
    • Willingness & commitment to care for these trees long-term

Have questions or want to join The Boston Tree Party?


Do you have anything like this in your city or town?

Photos courtesy of The Boston Tree Party

7 Responses to “The Boston Tree Party: Urban Orchards Unite Communities”

  1. Love this! 🙂

  2. What a great organization!

  3. Oh I agree what a great organization!!

  4. Wow, that is too cool!

  5. I agree Michelle-such a cool organization!

  6. I would love to see this take off in other cities too Alicia.

  7. Wow, this is very cool! Apple trees in urban areas are typically ignored even though they’re a wonderful source of local food.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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