New apple orchard in Palmer Park is drawing criticism from some neighbors

800 apple trees have been planted in Palmer Park

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A newly-planted apple orchard in Detroit's Palmer Park is stirring debate in that community.

About 800 apple trees now fill a green space across the street from the pool and playground area in Palmer Park – which is located west of Woodward Avenue and south of Seven Mile Road.

The non-profit group People for Palmer Park organized the tree planting earlier this month.

"We had known that there were two residents next to the orchard that were upset," said Sarah James with the People for Palmer Park.

"But we were really surprised, disappointed, and frustrated this issue went before the Council, and we weren't able to give our side," said James.

She's talking about the resolution Detroit City Council approved Tuesday, May 29.  The resolution urges Mayor Dave Bing's administration to facilitate the removal and relocation of the fruit orchards planted by the People for Palmer Park.

James told 7 Action News that the orchard had been in the planning stages for two years.  She said the 5-year-old fruit trees –and the labor to plant them -- were donated.

"This had come out of wanting to have people connect with agriculture, having an educational component for kids to learn where our food comes from, to celebrate the fall harvest, have residents partake of the fruits of the trees, and also to help with the oxygen and the beauty of the park," explained James.  "And we had in-kind donations and expertise in order to allow this.  So it seemed like a win-win all around."

But James said a few residents were concerned the fruit would draw rats.

"People [we've talked with] who've had orchards for five, six generations all said that's ridiculous," said James about the rat concern.

"You might attract a deer or a rabbit…but what could be negative about an orchard?!" said James.

7 Action News tried to contact the opponents of the orchard but were unsuccessful.

James said the People of Palmer Park are planning to harvest the fruit trees every fall so rotting fruit does not become a concern.

The Detroit City Clerk's office confirmed that the Neighborhood Community Services Standing Committee is holding a 1:15 pm meeting Thursday, May 31.   A discussion of the apple orchard issue is on the agenda.

The Bing administration has not acted on the resolution yet.

Brad Dick, the Director of the General Services Department issued the following statement to 7 Action News about out report.

I felt the discussion was fair and that it was good to bring both sides together. The end result as recommended by City Council was to work out a compromise. Councilmember Jones elected to chair the Compromise Committee with representatives from the Palmer Park community, General Services Department and The Recreation Department.  We look forward to working with our residents on a solution that continues to develop and beautify the park and provide a place for people to play and have fun!

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