The Orchard at White Street Park in Suwanee, Ga. (pop. 19,000), is the first public orchard in the southeastern U.S. Once the trees bear fruit this summer, anyone will be able to pick the orchard’s blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, while making use of the already-available playground, lawn areas, pathways and pavilion. 

The orchard is a collaboration between the city, nonprofit community garden Harvest Farm and local landscape architect Roger Grant. White Street Park’s 2009 master plan included Harvest Farm and space for an orchard, which officials desired so as to improve community knowledge of gardening, local food and the environment.  

Suwanee funded the $183,471 project using Gwinnett County, Ga.’s special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) A local construction company graded the area and built its pavilion, lawns and pathways and a mound with two built-in embankment slides in early 2017. 

That summer, Grant and other community volunteers sowed fruiting plants and installed birdhouses, trellises and huts made of living willow trees. Grant’s 200 hours of donated design and work contributed an estimated value of $22,000.

Moving forward, Suwanee will give an annual $1,000 to the orchard’s management committee, and its public works department will handle ongoing maintenance, which will involve organic pesticides.    

“It gives us a nice opportunity to show especially young children, where their food’s coming from, how to grow it naturally,” says Suwanee Public Information Officer Abby Wilkerson. “We’re hoping to push a healthier Suwanee."