- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee County will soon have the largest urban organic fruit orchard in the country.

The first of 3,000 fruit trees, 4,000 asparagus plants and more than 16,000 strawberry plants were planted last weekend at the orchard in Oak Creek as part of the county’s Sowing, Empowering, and Eliminating Food Deserts Initiative.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic started the program in 2015, Wisconsin Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2ffURE0) reported. She says the orchard could serve as a learning opportunity about the need for access to healthy food options.

Dimitrijevic said the benefits of the locally grown food are worth the $100,000 investment from the county.

“Food deserts are extremely harmful to our overall public health,” he said. “The more we can eliminate them and supply people with the tools to improve their health, I think, overall, we’ll have a healthier community.”

Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor says the produce will go to those in need, with schools and low-income residents getting access first.

Taylor said it will be a few years before the trees bear fruit. The produce will be processed locally at the Growing Power facility, and the Milwaukee Hunger Task Force will help distribute it through its mobile markets.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, https://www.wpr.org


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