New Orchard on the Block: Nettleton Community Orchard
Memphis is home to dozens of community gardens. They range in size from a few beds to several acres out at Shelby Farms. Gardens require careful tending.
Weeding, watering, and harvesting need to be done almost daily in the summer months. Even a small raised bed will yield pounds of greens, herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and other favorite vegetables. The only thing missing is fruit.
Where the Canadian Northern railroad snakes through downtown, a grassy hill slopes down from the tracks to where Tennessee Street crosses Nettleton Avenue. Well used as a dog spot, the land is not conducive to building, but wasn’t maximized as a green space either.
Downtown resident Kjeld Petersen (who is also part of the Edible Memphis publishing team) decided to explore the possibilities of a community orchard. Bringing together the condo association who owns the land, the South Main Association, and other area stakeholders, funding through Ioby raised the money for the trees. Along with some digging strength from volunteer groups from Autozone and Memphis City Beautiful, the Nettleton Community Orchard was born.
Several fruit trees and bushes now dot the slope — peaches, plums, figs, and blueberries. The young trees don’t need as much tending as a garden bed, just a weekly visit to water. Signage and poop sacks were added for the dog walkers to help keep the area clean. Kept low and professionally pruned, the fruit trees will offer a bit of shade, visual interest to the green space, and fresh fruit for the picking.
Tennessee Street and Nettleton Avenue www.memphiscitygardens.org