In 2019 Baton Rouge Green began establishing a citrus tree orchard in a previously open field (a former golf course fairway!) at BREC’s Howell Park, adjacent to the site of the Baton Roots Community Farm. In multiple phases of planting, a total of about 40 fruit trees have been planted and maintained. As soon as Winter 2023, some of these maturing trees are expected to bear fruit which will be available to passersby, or can be moved out into the community to “food desert” areas through Baton Roots distribution channels.
The site has been a labor of love for Baton Rouge Green staff, but also a testing ground. In planning the site, BRG arboriculture experts included the planting of about 20 loblolly pine trees amongst the citrus trees, as well as rows of Eastern Red Cedars at either end of the rectangular plot of land. These pines and cedars are designed to act as windbreaks during the coldest months of the year, helping protect the citrus trees, which can be susceptible to sustained freezing temperatures. Research has shown this technique can help create tiny micro-climates to keep temperatures around the trees more stable.
Our Baton Roots orchard also represents a community-built asset. Volunteers have been a critical labor force for this site, including teams of workers from Citizens Bank & Trust, Angelo’s Landscape, Domain Properties, LSU, Baton Rouge High and other groups. Volunteers have helped plant the trees, move and replant trees from other sites, and provide yearly mulching.
This project also kicked off a “fruitful” partnership between Baton Roots Community Farm, a division of The Walls Project, and Baton Rouge Green that has continued. As of 2023, Baton Rouge Green and Baton Roots are also working together at 8 East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority communities where satellite community gardens and citrus orchards are being established and maintained.