History of Strafford Edible Pocket Park

In the spring of 2013 we went to an apple workshop in Hartford, sponsored by the Upper Valley Apple Corps. That was where the idea was first formed. Could we create a small public park in South Strafford or Strafford that would be filled with fruit and nut trees?  The park would be cared for by as many people as possible. Once the trees and bushes reached maturity the harvest would be available to everyone.

For at least a year, it was only an idea. Then, barely a plan. A site had to be found and a proposal approved by all of the powers that be. Grants and donations had to be gathered. In the fall of 2013 the Upper Valley Apple Corps offered us two apple trees. We still didn't have an official site but we received permission to plant them by the tennis courts.

Then everything seemed to come together. In the summer of 2014 we found the site, across from Newton School, beyond the Creative Pre-School and the soccer field. Our grant from New England Grassroots Environment fund came through and in the beginning of October 2014 we were on our way.

Click here to see the original proposal that went to the Selectboard. Then use Back Button to return.

Late Fall 2014 and Early Spring 2015

Molly Willmschen's photo was taken in early April 2015. The new trees and bushes made it through the long, bitter winter.

This is a report on work done at the Strafford Edible Pocket Park in late fall of 2014 and early spring of 2015. 

Despite the harsh winter and chilly spring, all of  the fruit and nut trees in the Pocket Park appear to be healthy, and all of the smaller bushes planted in the fall clearly survived. It's hard to believe that work on the park began only last October!

It would have been impossible to achieve so much without the support of many businesses and individuals, and without the labor of family, friends, and the children of Strafford. A list of those whom we want to thank appears near the end of this post.

Barbara has found that family members make wonderful "volunteers." 

Left, son Patrick clears invasives along the perimeter of the park.

Below, son Jeremy and his girlfriend Courtney Austin dig holes for blueberry bushes.

Here Barbara is spraying a magic potion (organic) on the fruit trees, preparing them for dormancy. Below, she's scattering lime on the grass. Farther below, Wally is mowing and raking the lawn.

The photo below shows the pocket park on November 1, 2014.  It is almost buttoned up for the winter, with all the beds mulched. A good thing, because the skies were darkening and winter was fast approaching.

One of the things still to be done last November was planting spring bulbs. In this, the Creative Pre-School, kindergarteners, and grades 1 and 2 of Newton School were great workers. Below, some of the children hard at work.

Another job in November was clearing Japanese Knotweed and buckthorn around the perimeter, opening views of the river. That work still goes on, perhaps forever! Eli Mintz provided loads of woodchips for mulching the newly cleared areas to supress regrowth.

The diagram below shows much of the planting that has been done to date. As you might guess, the red dots are apple trees, yellow are pears, purple are plums, blue are blueberries. Various berry and nut bushes ae represented also. The picnic tables are in the park; the benches will be placed this summer.

This April we have already planted the rest of the Hazelbert hedge, an apple, a pear, a northern mulberry, and a Bur oak. There are many more smaller bushes still to be planted (winterberry, june berry, edible honeysuckle, gooseberry and currant). The only ones left to be purchased are cranberries and lingonberries.

Work to Be Done in Spring/Summer 2015
  • Prepare and plant 40-50 more bushes and native species.
  • Collect BUCKETS AND BUCKETS of water from the river. (Each new planting needs up to five gallons of water every other day.)
  • Cut back more Japanese Knotweed, making sure none goes in the river.
  • Clear more of the perimeter -- buckthorn, poisonous parsnip and other nuisances.
  • Come visit the park, picnic, and enjoy. Some day, pick fruit and help reap the harvest of all the hard work.
Wish List
  • Volunteers to plan and help
  • Pump for getting water from the river   5/13 WE HAVE A PUMP!
  • Garden shed for storing tools and materials
  • Wind Chimes and/or Buoy Bell
  • Two benches
So Many People to Thank

Individuals and Families

Gail Boyajian, Christine Bartlett, Dori Wolfe, Kate Seipman, Ruth Whybrow, Janet Cavenaugh, Ken Alton, Lori Mikousa, Rebecca Seibel, Sharon Risso, Barbara Smith, Tracey McFadden, Red Taplin, Margo Baldwin, Jessica Tidman, Therese Linehan, Bonna Wieler, Anne Pennfield, Tii McLane, Micki Colbeck, Dorian Yates, Cindy Binzen, Trudi Brock, Lauri Berkenkamp, Dotty Dube, Anita Onofrio, Charlotte Faccio, Kathy Thompson, the Ray Family, Margaret Gadon and John Riley, Steve and Stephanie Willbanks, Jennifer Brown, Cora, Aubrey, Lauren, and Willis Phelps, Erin Masteller, Francis Devlin, Tate Daly, Bob Bauer, Molly Willmschen, Eli Mintz, Curt Albee, Lee Funston, Damien Harrington, Shari Rutz and Tallulah, Bethany and Brian Cole, Wally Smith, Jeremy Smith, Courtney Austin, Patrick Smith, Conner Smith, Kemba Russell, Mo and Sherm Wilson, Francis Devlin, Van and Leigh Chesnut, Lisa Durstin, Peter and Sherry Duveneck, Bill Goulet, Mike Hebb, Matt Perry

Organizations and Businesses

Strafford Selectboard, Strafford Recreation Board, Upper Valley Apple Corps, New England Grassroots Fund, Newton School Farm to School Program, E. C. Brown Nursery, Henderson's Garden Center, Elmore Roots Nursery, Longacres, St. Lawrence Nursery, Frost's Garden Center, Northern Nurseries, Tim Camisa and Vermont Organics Reclamation, Amy Huyfer/Rockbottom Farm, LaValley, West Lebanon Supply, Joe's Equipment, Sunapee Granite Works, Dandelion Acres, Paul Sachs North Country Organics, Home Depot

Progress in Early Spring, 2015

By the end of April, quite a lot had been done, with much more to go. As mentioned with Molly's photo at the beginning, all the trees and nearly all the other plants seem to have survived the brutal winter. Below, daffodils planted by the Creative Preschool and the Newton School kindergarten, first, and second grade childen are popping up around the trees.

Watering is an all consuming task for us. Each new planting needs up to five gallons of water every other day...and with this dry weather, last year's plantings also need watering once or twice a week. It is a great help when Casey and his middle schoolers can help fill up the water barrels. Thank you! If any visitor to the park can haul up a bucket or two it would be deeply appreciated.

7th graders work together in a bucket brigade

Japanese Knotwee, aka wild bamboo, is our greatest ongoing enemy. Here it is, still green and easy to snap off near the ground:

We need all of the help we can get to keep it under control. If you are visiting please snap some off and leave them in a bucket on the picnic table. Then we can dispose of them properly. DO NOT throw them in the river.

Jade, one of my best knotweed destoyers

Summer 2015

Evening primrose, lupines, and daisies welcoming visitors to the park - to be joined this fall by global warming mums.

The beginnings of a hazelbert hedge - that will block invasive soccer balls and add nuts to our diets.

Pear, jostaberry, gooseberry and low growing blueberry guild.

Wally helping to build and prepare the footings for one of our new granite benches - bought from Sunapee Granite Works. The first bench, finished and in place.

Conner helping to beat back the Japanese knotweed and our new dogi pot. Dogs are welcome to come, under supervision, and play in the river. Please clean up afterwards.

It was a harsh winter, and many of the fruit trees needed to be cut back, but they did survive and are growing back this summer. Here they are surrounded by achilea and  lungwort (for early pollination).

Eva's plants bore a surprising number of blueberries in their first season.

Early Fall 2015

Looking at the Strafford Edible Pocket Park early this September, it's hard to believe that it is still less than a year since work started. It already seems so well-established!

Below are a few developments in the last week of August and first week of September:

Eva's bench has now been installed. Beyond it is her blueberry patch, and behind it is the river. Wally poured footings and set the "legs," and soon the top was in place with help from the strong arms and keen eyes of Sherm and Mo Wilson.

   We had a very successful sale at the end of the summer - selling Global Warming Mums -                                         supplied by Vermont Organics Reclamation.

Above is our first and still best-looking plum. The trees have been in the ground for less than a year, so we're happy to see it. Below are cardinal flowers that are nearly as tall as Hannah's Apple Tree; also elderberries.

These are two wind chimes. The first, donated by Bob Bauer, has a wonderful sound but we must still attach a wind-catcher to make it ring! On the right are Woodstock Autism Chimes; all after-tax profits go to autism treatment and research. They were donated by Lisa Durstin.

Barbara is standing beside a huge, nasty pile of buckthorne. It's in Bob Bauer's backyard right now but will soon disappear in a puff of smoke. Cutting and hauling it out of the park was a nasty job, performed with good will by Mo and Sherm Wilson, Kemba Russell and Patrick Smith. We are super-grateful to them and to Bob for his patience and help.