Creating Healthy Habitats for

West End Communities and Wildlife

Coming together is a beginning;

keeping together is progress; working

together is success.

– Henry Ford

  

By Sala Faruq | July 27, 2019

Orchard and Pollinator Garden for Website 2

Fig tree in fruit.eeeeeeeee                                                                       Pollinator garden in bloom.

The Friendship Sportsplex is located at 2310 Cindy Lane, Charlotte, NC 28216. Along with two ball fields, picnic area, and playground, it is the home of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Edible Landscape and Fruit Tree Orchard (Friendship Orchard) and the Community Alliance for Wildlife Pollinator Garden (CAW Pollinator Garden).

 

The Friendship Orchard
The Friendship Orchard is the brainchild of Reggie Singleton, Health Policy Coordinator with Mecklenburg County Public Health. He was inspired by a sojourn to Ghana, West Africa, in December 2010.

 

While in Ghana, Singleton and his Males Place delegation traveled throughout the countryside. One of the things he noticed was the abundance of fruit trees, particularly in Kumasi, also known as The Garden City.

 

“The trip brought back memories of my childhood days growing up on the Sea Islands of Charleston, SC,” said Singleton. “The idea of using edible landscapes and fruit tree orchards stayed with me until October 2015.” He spoke with his Manager, Jon Levin at Mecklenburg County Public Health, about the potential of partnering with community stakeholders to install orchards throughout communities in Charlotte that suffer food insecurity.

 

In November 2015, Singleton spoke with Ed Holland, the administrator at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. He shared with him that they could make a significant impact along the Beatties Ford Road Corridor by planting a diverse orchard of native trees and shrubs.

 

From the initial conversation with Holland, Singleton assembled a team consisting of Mecklenburg County Public Health, TreesCharlotte, Cooperative Extension - Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Village Heart B.E.A.T., The Males Place, and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church parishioners. With these sponsors, partners, and volunteers, the Friendship Orchard was installed on October 15, 2016. Twenty-five fruit trees were planted including apple, peach, fig, pear, and persimmon. A training program was conducted in February 2017 for parishioners, Friendship’s Boy Scout group, and community members on caring for the trees - watering, pruning, harvesting, and fruit distribution.

 

CAW Pollinator Garden
In the spring of 2018, Ron Ross, CAW Vice President, and Dr. Angel Hjarding, Butterfly Highway, met with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church’s administrator Holland to establish a Friendship Community Wildlife Habitat Training program. The program was open to church members and local area residents. Thirteen participants completed the training.

 

As a component of the training, the newly trained wildlife habitat stewards helped plant the CAW Pollinator Garden on May 5, 2018, immediately adjacent to the Friendship Orchard. With this endeavor, CAW partnered with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF), the Butterfly Highway, and Mecklenburg Park and Recreation. Over 500 native pollinators were planted and 30 yards of mulch spread.

 

On November 3, 2018, CAW hosted a Pollinator Garden Celebration where the garden was expanded with support from its partners NCWF, the Butterfly Highway, Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful, Cooperative Extension – Mecklenburg, and Mecklenburg Park and Recreation. The Males Place and other local volunteers numbering 36 helped plant twenty blueberry bushes, four muscadine grape vines, and nearly a thousand native pollinator plants. Native pollinators include Purple Coneflower, Paprika Yarrow, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Jacob Cline Bee Balm, and more. Thirty yards of mulch and ten yards of soil were spread. The Friendship Orchard was cleaned up and the twenty-five fruit trees received fresh mulch.

 

The Future

The Friendship Orchard and CAW Pollinator Garden are just a beginning. Over the next two years, we will be working to develop the space into a showpiece of urban garden design, art, and wildlife habitat.
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This vision links to CAW's mission and distinction of being the first African American-led chapter of NCWF and serving Charlotte's communities of color in bettering the environment. Thanks to Reggie Singleton for bringing this idea to the community and enlisting others to make it happen.