Jo An Street is the mother of an elementary student at Reiche School near downtown Portland, Maine, a recognized Tree City USA community for nearly four decades, so she understands the importance of exposing city-raised children to trees and green space. She was pleased when a collaborative effort was initiated between Portland’s Forestry Department, local businesses and educational groups to create apple orchards on school grounds.
“This is the only green space many of these children may have access to,” says Jo An. With support from the Maine Forest Service‘s ‘Project Canopy,’ four apple orchards were established at Portland schools during the first three years, and the project continues to grow.
The trees in the school orchard are connecting children with nature. The orchards are planted and cared for by students and staff during the school year and by community and parent groups during the summer. In addition to providing outdoor play space, the orchards also serve an educational purpose.
“This has become a community effort and trees are an important way to bring science education to these kids,” Jo An adds. She has already noticed the difference the trees have made to her own children.
Were it not for grant dollars, professional advice and volunteer assistance from state and local forestry officials, children in Portland would not have these educational and invigorating orchards in which to learn and play.
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