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Fresh Food Forest Gets Planted In A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park

Blake Allen/WJCT NEWS
The citrus grove planted at A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park

Greenscape of Jacksonville teamed up with TD Bank on Wednesday to plant fruit trees in an eastside Jacksonville neighborhood.

Digging in the dirt with the sun beating down, bank employees and members of the tree-planting non-profit group worked side-by-side in A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park for TD Tree Days. The annual event is a collaboration between the bank and local organizations to plant trees in local communities in need.

Although this is not the first time these two organizations have worked together, it is the first involving fruit-bearing trees.

“It’s basically so the residents of this area will have fresh fruit that they can actually come and pick, and you know, take care of and nurture these trees. It’s a beautiful park, and this is just a great addition,” Greenscape board member Gabriele Dempsey said.

This community is referred to as a “food desert,” an area where fresh produce isn’t easily accessible. “Because there are not really a lot of established grocery stores in this area so, you know, people run to anywhere from the Dollar Store to wherever to get food,” Dempsey said. “So this really is an opportunity to provide fresh fruit.”

Greenscape Executive Director Anna Dooley said today’s planting effort will grow into a grove full of flourishing trees in three years. But the first fruits should be available for harvesting in a year.

Credit Blake Allen/WJCT NEWS
Some newly planted fig trees.

In all, 74 fig, pear, persimmon, citrus and pecan trees have been carefully placed throughout the park.

“The east side community is banding together. They’re really very excited about this project, and I think they realize the importance of establishing a fresh food forest,” she said.

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News intern Blake Allen can be reached at, or on Twitter @BAllenMMJ

Blake Allen is a senior studying multimedia journalism at the University of North Florida.