A fruitful effort is taking place near the food deserts of Cincinnati

A man from Cincinnati is on a mission to plant 100 orchards over the next ten years to feed people in food deserts. WVXU recently visited its first in West Price Hill.

It’s easy to drive past the junction of Glenway and Schiff avenues not knowing that this green space is actually a “food forest” that helps feed the people in the neighborhood. Chris Smyth started the Common Orchard Project in 2017.

Smyth, a permaculture scientist who seeks a balance between plants, animals, and humans, says the peach harvest this year was great. There are also apple, cherry, pear, pecan, and plum trees on this property, which was once home to two derelict buildings. Smyth explains that he’s working with The Port and other organizations like Price Hill Will to figure out where to plant the orchards.

“There are fruit trees. There are lawns. But there are also remedies, berry bushes. We have echinacea, wormwood, passion flower and all other plant species that have a function within the system, either to protect the fruit from pests and insects, or to add nutrients circulate.” and keep the trees healthy and alive, “says Smyth.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Chris Smyth says the orchards are designed not to require a lot of volunteer work.

The 10 orchards he planted in Cincinnati go up Mill Creek to Northside. Smyth sees Common Orchards as a way to bridge the gap between vacant lots and potential development.

There are a few more things he wants to do, such as a broken branch of peach if someone climbs up to get to the fruit. He says he has an idea how to help residents solve the problem.

Smyth hopes to spread his idea in Ohio. He’s traveling to Cleveland this fall to teach a nonprofit about the concept.

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