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The fruits of a local orchard project are going a long way

Chris Smyth.jpg
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
Common Orchard Project Executive Director Chris Smyth looks forward to developing the Camp Washington Urban Farm, soon to be the hub for planting fruit trees in neighborhoods with classes and composting.

The Common Orchard Project has already established more than 20 orchards in Greater Cincinnati. Ten new ones are planned this fall and Chris Smyth would like to have 10 new ones every year.

The two-acre Camp Washington Urban Farm, next to the River City Correctional Center, is slightly overgrown now, but it won't be too much longer before fruit trees from there help start more neighborhood orchards all over Greater Cincinnati and beyond.

Executive Director of the Common Orchard Project Chris Smyth calls the farm the hub of the project and looks forward to opening 10 additional orchards this fall. It was in 2020 when WVXU told you about the first one in West Price Hill.

“I’m trying to find ways to activate spaces in neighborhoods that are not just lawn, but that a variety of people want to get together and share their own knowledge, he says. “It’s kind of a watering hole where the experts aren’t from specific socio-economic groups, so everybody can share their gifts together.”

Smyth explains the idea is to supply fresh food where people are, and that they will eat.

He already has the farm separated into different areas. A space by a mural will be for classes; further down are fruit trees waiting for transplant; a hoop house is protecting figs and another area is reserved for berries.

Urban Farm 2.jpg
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
This is one of the quietest spaces on the 2-acre farm (because it's right near I-75) and so Smyth says classes will happen in front of the mural.

He stops to explain one important project — composting. Grants from the Ohio EPA, the USDA and the SC Ministry Foundation make it possible at the farm.

“So once this operation gets going, we'll be taking in about 300,000 pounds of food scraps every year, mixing it with wood chips, and turning it into some five 600 yards of usable high-quality compost,” he explains. “And we'll either be selling that or giving that away to new community gardens farms, putting it in orchards, putting it out on this land.” Common Orchard will sell the composted material or use its rich dirt.

The neighborhood orchards opening this fall are in College Hill, Evanston, Finneytown, Hamilton, Lower Price Hill, Mt. Airy, Mt. Auburn and Wilmington.

This is in addition to more than 20 existing neighborhood orchards.

Urban Farm 1.jpg
Ann Thompson
/
WVXU
Look closely and you will see fruit trees ready to plant at neighborhood orchards.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology