70 Fruit Trees Coming to Hartford

 Why buy it if you can pick it fresh, and free?

Hartford’s north end is getting some 70 fruit-bearing trees this summer, courtesy of a joint venture including the City, T.D. Bank, and Hartford-based Knox Inc., a company whose stated mission includes using horticulture as a catalyst for community engagement.

Knox spokesman Ryan O’Halloran points out, “If you think about it, 200 years ago Hartford was a forest.”

Of course, as the city grew up something happened to a lot of that forest along the way, but the program “Trees for Hartford Neighborhoods” is doing something else to bring some of it back.

It all started Saturday morning at Cabot Street Community Garden, a space where a residential building stood among others of its kind. With muscle from T.D. Bank volunteers, the first four trees went into the ground.

“We mostly have pears and peaches here. They actually have little fruit buds on the already,” explains O’Halloran, “so they’ll probably – within two or three years – I mean, they’ll be fully fruit-producing trees.”

Indeed those buds are visible, a sign that neighbor Jose Davila, who tends his own plot in the garden, will eventually have some fruit to complement the lettuce and other vegetables he’s growing.

“They are expensive at the store, so, you know, if we can grow our own, that’s good,” Davila told NBC Connecticut with a smile.

Like others on hand for the tree planting, he’s excited by the beauty, cleaner air, and of course the fruit that the trees will provide, but he adds that the trees will nourish the neighborhood in at least one other way.

“It’s a good thing because over here we don’t have too many community things to do, and that brings the community together,” he predicts.

The four trees at Cabot Street were followed by two more just a few blocks away, near Sigourney Street. T.D. Bank, which is helping to fund the project, says it seeks to plant enough trees in many locales to represent and replace the amount of paper it uses.

“It’s about sustaining the look and feel of the environment, enhancing pride within the community, and really a great opportunity to partner together with other organizations, to work together with the community to make that happen,” spokesman Timothy Taylor said.

Fresh and free fruit, beautiful trees, a little less carbon in the air, and a boost to a community. Sounds like an equation to make neighborhoods a little less mean, and a lot more green.

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