Thirty fruit trees have been planted in New Bedford's new public orchard at Hazelwood Park in an effort to provide residents with fresh, healthy food options. 

The nine-year-old 27 apple trees and three pear trees were officially unveiled Friday morning by Mayor Jon Mitchell and other local leaders.

"An active, fun activity of coming to the park and picking apples is something we think will help change the culture around nutritional habits and the way we think about food in our society," said Mitchell.

Funding to establish the orchard came from a $5,000 grant from the Island Foundation in partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

The trees will be harvested and maintained by New Bedford City Fruit, who will also provide education of urban agricultural practices.

"New Bedford City Fruit would like to harness this knowledge and share it with future generations to come because our children really deserve the opportunity to not only have access to healthy, affordable food but to know how to grow and really be empowered by these skills," said program coordinator Stephanie Reusch-Perks.

The trees recently planted should last for about 100 years as the city looks to make long-term investments in the future of public assets. They are also the first step in a multi-phase Master Plan aimed at revitalizing Hazelwood Park.

It will still be several years until the fruit begins to blossom.

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