The orchard is designed to bring the u-pick experience, which is synonymous with Michigan’s harvest season, into Detroit’s Urban Core. We are hoping to create a centerpiece in the neighborhood for development, recreation, education, and food access.
The proposed orchard site is located between Charlevoix and Vernor next to the Wolverine Center, with boundaries of Lenox St and Coplin Street. Located between Grosse Pointe Park, The Connor Assembly Plant, Mack Avenue, and Jefferson Ave.
Simply stated, this is our neighborhood, and where we’ve planted our roots. We’ve been here for nearly 30 years at the Wolverine Center and we are committed to staying in this neighborhood and continuing to create opportunities for the youth in our care, while also creating educational, vocational, and nutritional opportunities for our neighbors. This is also part of a larger proposal to create a community hub that stretches from the Wolverine Center to a fully-renovated Carstens Elementary School building.
While it may seem that an apple orchard would attract more rodents to the area, in fact there will be fewer rodents in the orchard footprint than there currently are in this blighted area. We have a 5-prong plan to manage the rodent population recommended by our CAO and 6th generation apple farmer, Isaiah Wunsch:
- Deep tillage prior to planting (necessary for prep anyway);
- Establishment of orchard grass row middles, which naturally deter rodents;
- Three annual applications of herbicide to reduce rodent habitats in tree rows;
- Regularly scheduled mowing of row middles to eliminate additional habitat;
- Baiting and trapping as necessary in the first year to reduce what we assume will be high initial rodent populations in the currently undeveloped area
In our current development plan, we will be planting trees in spring 2017. Though the orchard will not be fully producing fruit for about 3 years after planting, other features of the Core Orchards development will be operational by summer of 2017. These features include:
- Community Gardens with wheelchair accessible raised beds
- Weekly farmers’ market featuring food grown on site, and supplemented by urban agriculture projects around the city
- Nutrition and cooking education and training
The main crop will be Honey Crisp apples, and featuring other apple strands as well.
We will be using a high-density trellised growing system. This means that the trees are trained to grow along a wire structure, so they don’t have to work as hard against gravity. With the trellis growing system, Core Orchards’ trees will be producing fruit within 3 years.
WHS currently employs 40 people in the Jefferson-Mack Neighborhood at the Wolverine Center. Core Orchards Detroit will create 3 full-time, year-round positions to manage the orchards and garden projects. Core Orchards will also employ about 20-50 residents of the neighborhood in a seasonal capacity.