Many things grow on Juniper Gardens Training Farm, like tomatoes, chin baung, farm kids, farm businesses. However there are certain things that don’t grow there. Namely, any sort of perennial crop, or plants that live more than a couple years like rhubarb, berry bushes, or fruit trees.
For a number of reasons, including the fact that Juniper Gardens is leased from the Housing Authority, installing fruit producing shrubs and trees has always seemed like too risky an investment. That’s because many trees require years of growth before they produce fruit, and as with any situation in which the farmer does not own their land, the uncertainty of long term land tenure at JGTF dictates what is wise to cultivate. This limits what participants in the New Roots program are able to grow and experiment with as they develop their small farm businesses.
Then along comes Malisa Monyakula, owner of Lulu’s Thai Noodles and long-time supporter of the New Roots farmer training program. She had recently purchased a city lot across the street from Juniper Gardens on Troup Avenue, with the express intent of allowing New Roots to use it as a training space.
On October 31st, the Troup Ave Orchard was installed by Cultivate KC and Catholic Charities Staff with volunteer support from the Giving Grove, Groundwork NRG, KC Healthy Kids. The orchard includes several varieties each of Asian pears, bush cherries, persimmons, jujubes, and blackberry bushes, with peach trees coming in the spring. This new orchard will be a great place for New Roots farmers to learn how to care for fruit trees and blackberries, in the hopes that they can establish these crops at their own farms.
The site will also be open to the community for gathering and harvesting. The project was made possible with support from K Jett Services, who provided the water access; Dennis Baughman of Midtown Signs; the Giving Grove; and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crop Block Grant.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @newrootskc for more updates from around Juniper Gardens Training Farm throughout the year. Looking to support New Roots? Farm Share 2024 sign ups are open! Check out our subscription page to learn how you can secure a summer full of vegetables next season.