PermaCulture Orchard, Hays Recreational Area/Taylor Park, Wilkinsburg, PA, 2012
While exploring Wilkinsburg to locate potential empty lots for EcoArt installations, a discussion ensued with Lazae LaSpina about planting the seeds of an idea for larger bioswales and grazing food gardens. The idea grew and evolved into a collaborative team project that became the creation of a sustainable food forest and rain gardens in Wilkinsburg. Sited on the public park property maintained for the borough by the Second United Presbyterian Church, that has a twenty-five year history of a neighborhood food pantry, we enticed the International Fruit Tree Planting Foundation plus Pittsburgh Permaculture to design and implement what is believed to be the first permaculture-style orchard serving food pantries on the east coast. The orchard consists of a variety of 25 fruit trees planted with an additional selection of fruiting berries, vines, herbs and perennial edibles. The practice of permaculture involves holistic, multi-layered designs to mimic natural ecosystems, often employing closely-knit plantings that complement each other’s growth and health. Each organization donated resources and expertise; contributed a unique set of skills, including fruit tree planting experience, permaculture design, ecoart installation, and water harvesting systems to ensure that the orchards will provide fresh, organic produce for decades.