With so many issues dividing our country, planting apple trees are bringing people together. Bryant Hileman, the founder of Project Pomona, says it’s a grassroots project that starts with community.
“We believe food is a human right,” Hileman said. “and the best way to do that is lead by example and to give away for free.”
The apple orchard will eventually feed hundreds of families in Paducah. They expect more than 1,000 pounds of apples per year from the dwarf apple trees. The fresh fruit will go to Paducah Cooperative Ministries and Family Service Society food pantries.
They started from an empty lot a few months ago. They are hoping to feed the more than 10,000 people in McCracken County that do not have a reliable access to a high quantity of nutritious and affordable food.
“It was literally just a vacant lot just with trash and bush and everything all over it,” said Sally Wiggins, Project Pomona volunteer, “and to see where it is now and to know that we will be feeding people within the next year it’s incredible.”
Of the 10,000 people in McCracken County that are food insecure, almost 3,000 are children, according to Feeding America.
Jackson Hefner, 10-years-old, is also spending his precious weekends giving back to his community
“I really wanted to help dig holes and plant trees for the people who do not have food because this,” Hefner said, “you don’t have to pay to come here and eat the food here.”
Hefner says now people get to eat just like him.
A gubernatorial candidate for governor also stopped by to help plant a tree. Adam Edelen says Project Pomona is inspiring.
“To me this is an example of Paducah leading and what we need in a governor and other state leaders is to make sure we take this approach cooked up in Paducah and take it statewide,” said Adam Edelen (D), former state of Kentucky auditor. “It’s not a community in Kentucky that couldn’t follow Paducah’s lead.”
One woman decided to help with the tree planting while walking past the event. She remembers the kids her family helped feed years ago in this neighborhood.
“Not many people think of others these days in these times and day,” said Judy Calloway, a new Project Pomona volunteer, “and this is a wonderful thing for all people of all religions, faith, and races to come together and do something together.
In a few short months they’ll see the literal fruits of their labor.
“If we want people to not destroy the world we have to help them fall in love with it,” Hileman said.
If you would like to donate to Project Pomona or volunteer at the orchard you can visit their Facebook page.