The Bounty of Community Orchards

A new ATTRA publication offers a step-by-step guide for new projects

orchard “When we give to nature, we are caring for future generations,” says Michael Flynn. “Of all the tools to inspire children and adults alike, the fruit tree is long-living, sweet, and symbolic of what we need to be doing.”

 Flynn and the organization he co-founded, Common Vision, are featured in a new ATTRA publication, “Community Orchards,” by National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Horticulture Specialist Guy Ames. In addition to organizations such as Common Vision, which plants trees in California school gardens, Ames talks about the history of the community orchard movement and offers a step-by-step guide for starting a community orchard.

 “Community Orchards” offers advice for choosing the fruit trees and plants that are the most likely to produce successful, bountiful harvests – including apples, pears, grapes, brambles, and some more unusual fruits such as pawpaws, persimmons, honeyberries, and pomegranates. The publication also features a list of helpful resources.

 Like community gardens, community orchards can have benefits that go far beyond the sweet success of harvest time.

 “We want to see kids taking part in creating a healthy future and help them to have access to and connection with real food that can nourish all of us,” Flynn says. “That is something that seems to be missing more and more every day in America, but we hope to change all of that.”

 “Community Orchards” is available on the ATTRA website at It can be downloaded for free or ordered as a paper publication for a small handling fee.

 For more information, call NCAT at 406-494-8675.

 ATTRA-National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has been the nation’s leading resource for information on sustainable agriculture since 1987, covering a wide range of topics, including reducing pesticide use on cropland, promoting food safety in sustainable production systems, reducing farm energy use and costs, enriching soils with the use of cover crops, and providing technical assistance in the growing areas of local farmers markets and urban gardening.

ATTRA has been developed and maintained by NCAT through a cooperative agreement with the USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. In addition to hundreds of sustainable-agriculture publications, ATTRA’s other popular offerings include a free sustainable-agriculture telephone helpline and the “Ask an Ag Expert” feature on the home page.  It has an archive of webinars and videos generated by NCAT and partnering organizations.

 ATTRA also maintains numerous popular databases, including sustainable-agriculture internships and apprenticeships, and is a source for the day’s agriculture news, among other features.