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District branches out to grow its own apples

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Orono Schools child nutrition logoWhen Dumas Apple House in Orono closed, Orono Schools Child Nutrition was left without a local source of apples.  Whenever possible, the department prioritizes local providers and has been recognized for its efforts in the Farm-to-School program.

Well, as the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. The door that opened was the Hennepin County Healthy Tree Canopy Grant. The district’s successful grant application will now allow apples to be grown on campus.

Healthy Tree Canopy Grants were established to help communities make positive changes in the tree canopy and engage residents in taking action to protect trees. It is believed that Hennepin is one of the first counties to offer such grants.

Child Nutrition, along with the district’s Building and Grounds Department, worked with the Orono High School Earth Club to plant apple trees on May 15. The Earth Club is new at the high school this year. Under the direction of science teacher Jessica Curtis, students celebrate the earth through activities, discussion and service projects that are environmentally centered.

Ten trees were planted ­– Honeycrisp, Kinder Krisp, Prairie Fire Crabapples and Haralson – on the north side of the Oliver Grieb Abbott Environmental Learning Center.

In the future, the high school’s biology department plans to use the trees as part of its genetics lessons.  All teachers will be encouraged to bring students out to observe the trees developing over time. The end goal is to provide a nutrition education lesson and have students harvest apples for the elementary Apple Crunch Day held annually in October.