By Zachary Sylvester, Staff Writer
Five heritage apple trees were recently planted on campus by Denise Boothby’s Nutrition and Ecological Concerns class. The trees, each of a unique variety, were planted along Lincoln St., next to Dakin and Lockwood Halls. The apple trees were donated to UMF by the Farmington Grange.
The five varieties planted, Black Oxford, Gray Pearmain, Somerset, Tolman Sweet and Wealthy, are unlike any apple that may be found in a supermarket; these heritage varieties are not grown on large-scale farms. They can typically only be found hanging from the tree.
Nickolas Bray, a Junior-year Environmental Science major, took part in the planting. He described the process he and his classmates went through: “We began by digging a hole that was wider than the tree’s root system, by about two times the width,” said Bray. “The tree was planted to a depth where the changing color between the root and the stem occurred.”
Apple trees do not produce fruit for some time. “Three to five years,” Bray said. This being the case, it is unlikely that any current students will still be attending UMF at the time of the first apple’s ripening; however, future classes will be able to enjoy the fruits of Bray’s labor, as will many staff and faculty members.
This project began because “the Grange was looking to work with a class that focuses on agriculture or farming,” Bray said. His class was recommended for the assignment by a campus faculty member.
“I think it’s an awesome idea,” Said Education major and Lockwood resident Carly Georgen. “The trees will be a beautiful addition.” Even though the plants are only a couple feet tall, Georgen appreciates the scenery. “They’re cute,” she added.
Lindsay Mower, another student in Boothby’s class who helped plant the Gray Pearmain apple tree, expressed her gratitude for the occasion. “Everyone should play in the dirt. Planting that tree made my day,” said Mower.
Additional campus flora is generally appreciated, though one student was pessimistic about the new orchard. Dylan Szymbor, a Junior-year Geology major, was quick to point out the negative aspect of fruit trees. “I hate bees,” Szymbor said. “These trees will attract a ton of bees, and I’m going to get stung.” While Szymbor’s own safety is protected by the tree’s youth, future classes may battle battalions of bees while walking to or from Dakin and Lockwood Halls.
These heritage trees aren’t the only edible agriculture on campus; pear and apple trees were planted behind the Honors House in the past. While those trees are somewhat hidden by the Honors building, these new apple trees will be immediately visible to anyone traveling through campus.