Orchard at Alan E. Rich Environmental Park
The Alan E. Rich Environmental Park and the adjacent Cass Meadow are rare treasures: parcels of conserved land in the heart of downtown Athol, Massachusetts. Known today as “Tool Town,” Athol has a history that includes the rise and fall of industry. In recent years, Athol’s citizens have worked to overcome rates of unemployment, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and domestic violence that are higher than those of most other towns in the Bay State. Several community organizations have emerged to bring together and support individuals and groups working to sow the seeds of positive change.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that a strong case may be made for environmental determinism. To this end, many citizens of Athol and the neighboring town of Orange are working to create more cultural opportunities for residents of these towns, the anchors of the North Quabbin region. Particularly, community members are seeking to improve the quality of life for families who live in downtown Athol and Orange.
Several urban greening projects have been proposed as part of this initiative. A team of AmeriCorps volunteers serving at Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust are working with community members to design greening projects at epicenters of need. Planned projects include a garden at the local hospital, the registration of the town’s fruit trees, and an orchard at the Rich Park.
The park’s location in the center of downtown Athol makes it perfectly suited for the project. Fruit and nut trees at the picnic area near the entrance to the park will invite community members to enjoy the conserved land. Food insecure and landless families who live downtown will be encouraged to utilize the orchard as a source of fresh produce, and excess fruit will be donated to the local food pantry.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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