Along with developing gardening skills, fifth graders at Thomaston Grammar School have acquired beginning knowledge in orchard planting.

On Tuesday, May 11, a new fruit tree orchard was planted at Thomaston Grammar School. The non-profit organization, ReTreeUs, chose the school for an orchard that was slated to be planted last spring, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

ReTreeUs has been planting orchards and providing educational programs across the state since 2012. They aim to “empower people to grow their own food and be healthy environmental stewards.”

The orchard planted at TGS is valued at over $2,000. The Flannel Shirt Fund also provided financial support for this project.

ReTreeUs Program Manager Richard Hodges and Program Coordinator Shelley Kruzewski arrived at the school with tools and trees. ReTreeUs board member Waite Maclin also came to assist during the day.

Twenty-eight fifth grade students did the bulk of the work; they were taught how to properly and safely use spades to cut out of the sod, the job of mixing compost and soil, and techniques of planting and mulching.

In the end, 15 new apple, pear and peach trees graced the area across from the school playground.

Other teachers brought their classes to the orchard planting activity to witness the event and learn through short presentations done by ReTreeUs.

Fifth grade teacher Lynn Snow applied for the orchard in July 2019. She will serve as the “Orchard Caretaker” with the help of her current fifth grade students and those in her future classes.

Snow is also the lead teacher for the Thomaston Grammar School fifth grade common ground garden and outdoor classroom, which is adjacent to the new orchard.