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VNRC awards Small Grant for Smart Growth to improve food access and walkability in White River Junction

The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) awarded a Small Grant for Smart Growth to the Upper Valley Apple Corps, a group that purchases, hosts, plants, and cares for fruit- and nut-bearing trees in the Upper Valley region of Vermont to promote community-wide access to free-for-the-picking produce.

In collaboration with the Town of Hartford, the Upper Valley Apple Corps will use its $1,500 grant for engineering work and permitting assistance as they prepare to install a rain garden site at Hartford Town Hall, which will help filter water from Lyman Point Park before it enters the Connecticut River. Eventually, the rain garden will serve as a feature point for the Hartford Fruit Walk, a self-guided path with fruit trees, medicinal herbs, and other gardens in White River Junction that will be planted and maintained by the Upper Valley Apple Corps.

“The Fruit Walk will bring pedestrians into closer contact with the natural spaces of White River Junction by providing better access, which will encourage a shift in thinking around how public green spaces can be shared and help to provide for the community,” said Cat Buxton, Coordinator of the Upper Valley Apple Corps.

“Fruit trees and food-producing plants that are part of the Fruit Walk are long-lasting, perennial solutions for food access in the community. As the plants grow, the community around the Fruit Walk will grow, too, allowing more people to be served and more and more people to interact with the businesses along the Fruit Walk trail,” added Buxton.

“We are excited about this creative, community-oriented, and inclusive placemaking project, which will be a great complement to other efforts to revitalize and promote White River Junction,” said Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC, who administers the Small Grants for Smart Growth program. “The effort to provide access to food in a walkable downtown is a particularly great aspect of this project.”

Small Grants for Smart Growth, launched in 2018, provide seed money for community-based initiatives related to smart growth, encompassing advocacy for better land use; advancing transportation choice; supporting housing choice and affordability; promoting downtown or village revitalization; promoting conservation of natural resources; and more. Learn more at https://vnrc.org/small-grants-for-smart-growth/.

The Small Grants for Smart Growth program is made possible with assistance from Beth Humstone, co-founder of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl and former VNRC board chair, and her son, Chris Gignoux.