Originally Published: January 21, 2015 6 a.m.
Students, staff and alumni of the Orme School enjoyed the warm, sunny weather Saturday as they planted 126 of the 200 trees for the school's new "Burpee Orchard" - so named because of the $1.5 million Burpee Foundation grant received this past year.
The former athletic field, complete with newly installed irrigation, is now home to eight types of apple, three types of apricot, three fig, five peach, three pear, three plum, a nectarine and a pluot.
The grant also covers the cost of a fence to protect the trees and fruit from deer, javalina, and groundhogs, said Bruce Sanborn, Orme headmaster.
He said the Orme School sense of community was evident with alumni from the 1960s up to the 21st century working side by side with current students.
All students do some work once a day that helps sustain the school and ranch, Sanborn said. Soon, all students will earn their food handlers certificate as part of the Food to Founders Hall project where food from the garden and orchard is prepared for meals served from the Founders Hall kitchen.
Casey Jones, director of the sustainability program, said Orme will launch a Sustainability Institute this summer that will bring in speakers and workshops on subjects such as beekeeping and projects that individuals can do at home.
Back at the orchard, a voice called out, "Hey, Mr. Jones! We lost our tree!" Three students stand next to a hole in the ground near the center of the orchard.
No tree, Jones told them. That is where the gazebo will go.
Later that evening, Orme Trustee John Kennedy and his band entertained the students and volunteers with an old-fashioned bluegrass hoedown.