Washington D.C. Urban Orchard Professional Development Program

The Washington, D.C. Metro Area does not produce enough fruit to meet local demand. Space constraints in a densely-populated urban setting, rapid increases on land leases, and perceived skill deficits among farmers have, in previous years, prevented D.C.’s urban farmers from expanding into the urban orcharding sector, despite its lucrative potential.

Recent policy changes regarding the use of public lands and privately-owned vacant lots present new opportunities to D.C. urban farmers. The city now offers more incentives to set deeper roots and seek professional development in the area of orchard production that offers excellent long-term financial returns. Many farmers are eager to increase their knowledge and skill sets in the areas of fruit tree production and orchard management.

This professional development program, conducted by the state coordinator at the University of the District of Columbia UDC), offers a comprehensive suite of training workshops, seminars and field practicums on fruit growing techniques to local agricultural service providers (ASP). Held at UDC’s Agricultural Experiment Station, the trainings will focus on teaching participants how to successfully plan, implement, and manage a fruit-bearing orchard.

The project will focus entirely on specialty and native fruit varieties suited to small-scale operations in the Mid-Atlantic region, including pawpaws, persimmons, blackberries and raspberries.

The project will culminate with the planting of twenty fruit trees at urban farms throughout the city as well as the formation of an orchard manager mentoring program staffed by program participants.

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