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Monday, Jan. 29, 2018

Orchard Squad

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Bearing fruit in the city

A local tribe of neighbors is working hard to restore fruit trees to Shreveport.

The Shreveport Orchard Squad, which was established in fall 2017, intends to plant more than a thousand fruit trees in Shreveport between January and March. “We’ve already prepared five public sites for fruit orchards: Highland Park, Southern Hills Park, the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, Eden Gardens Elementary School and the Community Renewal Friendship House in Allendale,” John-Paul Young, leader of the Squad, said. “We’ll also be planting trees in several dozen front and back yards in diverse neighborhoods around town.”

Young, who is the creator and administrator for the Squad on their Facebook page, is motivated to see Shreveport thrive. “We’re planting fig, apple, pear, plum and peach trees all around the city,” Young said. “We’re also planning landscape designs that catch and absorb rain, thereby slowing runoff, preventing flooding downhill and nourishing the trees with the moisture they need even in the driest months of the year.”

For Young, it’s obvious why locals should get involved in the venture – for the sake of not only function, but joy.

“Humans are happiest around trees,” Young said. “Their shade prevents sunburns and cools the areas around them during the hot season. They produce nourishment and habitats for wildlife and increase property values for home owners. Trees take carbon dioxide and other forms of pollution from the air and convert them into wood and leaves while people are doing other things. Most important, if the trees bear fruit and are sited in water-absorbing garden beds, they convert extra water from storms and extra sunlight into food for people.”

It’s a no-brainer for many, as the Squad continues to grow.

“Any food that a person gets from their own yard or a neighborhood park, growing for free from free rainwater and free sunshine, is food that they don’t have to pay for or drive to a grocery store to buy,” Young pointed out.

“When there are thousands of fruit trees growing in Shreveport, entrepreneurial citizens of any age and with any level of education will have a free resource which they can turn into the foundation of a business – providing them not only with food, but also with income and opportunity.”

Fruit trees growing from free resources like rainwater and sunshine are a crucial link in a cycle that permits humans to live off nature. “I’ve been growing vegetables in this efficient way for just two years now, and my gardens already generate enough to supply my small restaurant, The Levee, with fresh produce,” Young said. “This bounty in turn allows me to attract customers and support five employees – and it demonstrates that free rainwater and sunshine captured by valuable food plants can be the basis of a money-making business.”

“If all – or even just some – of our city’s land were devoted to water-catching fruit orchards, innumerable businesses could use their produce to earn money and create jobs that could never be outsourced from Shreveport,” Young said. “And that would make Shreveport a healthier, more beautiful city.”

The Shreveport currently has about 400 members, but as Young said, they could use 400 more. “Planting time is almost upon us, and I hope that even more locals will want to take part in what we’re doing,” Young said.

According to Young, Shreveport is a naturally rich city with a lot of land, which can become financially rich as well, with some effort and planning. “Shreveport tends to clear large swathes of the city and spend large amounts to keep public land mowed,” Young said.

“This drains city coffers, leads to flash flooding after heavy rains, and makes our city even hotter and sunnier in dry months. Planting fruit trees in watercatching gardens would be a better investment, and would turn free natural resources into things we all value – food, shade and beauty.”

The Shreveport Orchard Squad is open to anyone who wants to help plant fruit trees here in Shreveport. For more information, follow the Shreveport Orchard Squad on Facebook: facebook.

com/shreveportorchardsquad. To donate a tree: gofundme.com/fruit-orchardsfor-shreveport Because of his love for the city, Young has decided to run for mayor in 2018. “I sincerely believe that Shreveport can be a rich, healthy and well-fed city,” Young said. “I’m the only candidate with a serious proposal to improve quality of life, lower taxes, spur entrepreneurship and create a steady, long-term income stream for the city.”

“Rather than recklessly throw away money while continuing to strip our land, cook our streets and flood our low-lying neighborhoods, we should allow our landscape to create as much value for Shreveport citizens as possible,” Young said. “This year as a private citizen, I am planting 1,000 trees here in Shreveport, alongside my neighbors in the SOS. As mayor, I would lead the city government to plant many thousands more, to form the basis of a new and vibrant economy for our city.”

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