Adopting a tree in Gulfport is easy and will help to “grow peace from the ground up,” says Crea Egan, founder of the Food Forestry project located in the greenway art walk area of Clymer Park.
“Our main goal is to grow ourselves, our community and planet Earth in some sort of peaceful way, which is epic,” she said.
One way to get started is by participating in a new program called “adopt a tree.”
Egan and a collection of volunteers that numbered 14 on a recent Sunday afternoon, have planted edible trees and other plants that require frequent watering. Right now, the team is supplied with water provided by the city but the spigot is not connected to any type of built-in watering system. This means volunteers regularly carry or wheel buckets and drag hundreds of feet of hoses in order to water twice a week, which is especially needed during periods of drought.
Until an irrigation system is installed, the area is like a baby, said Egan. “We need more mommas and papas to step in and help.”
People can donate their time twice a week to water an existing tree or they can donate money that will be used to purchase and plant, for instance, a fruit tree either in the park or on the private land of city residents that are in partnership with the effort.
“We will provide the knowledge, wisdom and will check on the tree,” said Egan. “We need all of our trees to be adopted.”
Examples of edibles at the park include Everglades tomatoes, hibiscus and cosmos plants that are also ornamental, society garlic, pineapples, sugar apples, figs and sweat potatoes.
The basics of food forestry are plant dense to keep everything relatively small so it’s easier for people to harvest, said Egan. “It’s not landscaping or orchard planting,” she said.
One of Egan’s volunteers is an Eckerd College senior who is participating in an internship to help her organize volunteers and create a reference guide book of the plantings located in the park and elsewhere in the city.
“Potentially, a recipe will go along with each plant,” said Emily Brenner.
The city assists with the effort by allowing Egan and her volunteers to establish and maintain edible plants and trees within certain areas, said Jim O’Reilly, city manager.
“It’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “We’re working closely with Crea to make the greenway area of Clymer Park a success in concert with the art.”
To find out more by calling 727-560-0608 or visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Gulfportfoodforest.