Getting our organization off the ground has been very busy and exciting! Here are the highlights from our first year:
1. 501(c)(3) Non-Profit. In February 2019 we received status as an educational 501(c)(3) from the IRS.
2. Land Purchase. In March 2019, Randolph Community Orchard Inc. purchased the conserved 22-acre parcel of land at Exit 4. We are proud to steward this land for public enjoyment and recreation while the community orchard grows.
3. Connection with the local school system. RCO taught four classes at Randolph Technical Career Center on grafting, pruning, and the importance of perennial agriculture. In March, the students came up to the land at Exit 4 to assist with pruning apple trees. We look forward to cultivating our relationship with the school system over the years.
4. Formation of Orchard Care Club. In April 2019 we hosted a community information session at Kimball Public Library. We discussed plans for the orchard, our mission and philosophy, and how the orchard will function financially. Many attendees joined the Orchard Care Club, a group that stewards the land and runs the grassroots organization. At this time our organization is staffed entirely by volunteers.
5. Community Work Day & Orchard Planting. In May of 2019, the Orchard Care Club came out to plant the first trees in the nut orchard. We planted black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) and heartnut trees (Juglan ailantifolia) a Japanese species similar to butternut, but resistant to butternut canker. Back in 2018 when we were leasing the land, orchard co-founder Camden Walters planted 30 apple and pear trees, including nine varieties of cider pears.
6. Educational Events for Adult Community Members. We partnered with BALE’s Resilience University to host two educational workshops; a scything workshop with local resident Peter Leonard, and a Pruning, Grafting and Planting workshop with permaculture orchardist Nicko Rubin of East Hill Tree Farm.
7. Whale Dance Installation. On 7/19/2019, Randolph Community Orchard became the host of a magnificent sculpture, Whale Dance by Jim Sardonis. This was installed with funding from the Vermont Community Foundation and the Preservation Trust of Vermont, the organization that organized the preservation of this land and holds the conservation easements. We are proud to work closely with organizations dedicated to the preservation of Vermont’s working landscape and historic down towns and are dedicated to making this land accessible and enjoyable to the public in perpetuity.
Thanks for reading about the highlights of our first year. We are excited to continue working hard and look forward to enjoying the fruits of our labors! If you’re interested in joining the Orchard Care Club, please fill out this form.
What’s coming up: We will be launching our first fundraising event this Wednesday at the Whale Dance Party. We hope you can join us for the party! Here is a sneak peak at the images that will be displayed on the tee shirts, designed by volunteer members of the Orchard Care Club:
Jessica Taffet, RCO Director.