Build It Up East Tennessee will host a community planting at the new edible park at the corner of Buffalo and West Maple streets Saturday morning.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. with an informational discussion of plans for the park, its contents and its purpose.
The presentation will be followed by the planting of five new fruit trees — three pawpaws indigenous to the local region, a Liberty red apple tree and an Arkansas Black apple tree, and preparations for the grafting of an existing black walnut tree on the property that will soon be producing new varieties.
Hot coffee and tea will be available, beginning at 10 at the park at 258 W. Maple St.
The unique park project was made possible by a partnership between Build It Up, a local affiliate of the national Grand Aspiration organization and First United Methodist Church, which designated property for the Tree Streets Food Forest adjacent to its community food pantry.
Saturday’s planting will add to five young fruit saplings already taking root at the park. Two elderberry and three pawpaw trees, a couple of serviceberry bushes and a tea bush went into the ground in early December during an inaugural planting attended by about 25 park supporters.
Taylor Malone, program leader for Build It Up, said more trees, herbs, vegetables and edible and decorative flowers will be planted at the park throughout the year. A proposal for benches and small picnic area constructed of natural materials is also up for consideration by the church’s board of trustees.
Malone said the idea behind the project is to provide an outdoor space where community members can come to learn how to grow and process foods they will be able to take home and eat, much like the community garden at Carver Park but with a focus on fruit-bearing trees and bushes.
Trees and plants for the park are being purchased with a small grant from the nonprofit Appalachian Sustainable Development organization of Southwest Virginia.
Since December, Malone said Build It Up has also had success securing a site for a second edible park to be planted on a strip of property in the Mountain Home neighborhood too narrow for other development.
The new park will be planted through a partnership between Build It Up, a nonprofit housing organization that owns the property and the Johnson City Police Department’s Targeted Community Crime Reduction grant program.
Build It Up is continuing to search for additional sites for edible parks in the city, particularly in the downtown area.
Its mission is to improve the community’s health and economy and preserve its cultural heritage through the promotion of sustainable, locally grown food.
Malone invited anyone interested in designating a site for a park and partnering in its creation to visit BuildItUpETN.org or call 615-945-7164 for more information. More information about the project can also be found at the Build It Up East Tennessee Facebook page.