Articles written by Darryl McCullough (unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Warm Day In August

A good way to start the new year is to finish doing the things we promised to do last year (or the year before that, or …). Let’s get going on that!

Back in October I wrote about the East Bradenton Park Fruit Tree Grove and promised to tell more later. As I wrote then, the concept was to create a demonstration of the trees that people in the underserved neighborhood near the park might be able to grow for home use, trade, or sale.

Several planning meetings took place during the spring and summer, involving different government agencies and non-governmental organizations (that us!). As with most any new initiative, things moved more slowly than we might have liked, but it was a good-faith effort all around.

By the end of August, the 29th to be exact, the County was ready to build mounds for the trees and put in irrigation according to our specifications. Susan Jennifer Griffith of the Manatee County Extension, a co-organizer of the project, joined me in laying out a spacious array of 21 tree locations. It was mighty hot, and the fire ants were out in force, but we got the job done.

Here are some of those County workers in front of a pile of well-tested soil, and behind that the Tropicana plant that borders the park to the west. The men who build parks for a living brought along plenty of machinery as well as muscle power--- several fit-looking county workers, plus a couple of officers and some fellows in striped clothing who didn’t look like good choices to pick a fistfight with. We left them to it, and I turned to the task of coming up with the trees.

Club members will remember that the MRFC contributed $200 toward the cost of the 21 trees, and the Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota another $150. That didn’t quite cover it, but a suave, witty, drop-dead-handsome private donor, too modest to reveal his identity, closed the gap.

Friend-of-the-club and all-around good person Steve Cucura provided most of the trees at cost. With two of the MRFC’s reliable volunteers, Josh and Kevin, I made a shopping trip to Fruitscapes to select the trees, and on his next trip to Sarasota Steve dropped them off at my house. A few trees came from other sources, and by the time planting day arrived on September 16, I had the start of a nice fruit tree nursery on the pad behind the garage. Next week we’ll see how the planting went.

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