Fruits bloom in student orchard


By Bekah Denny

manning orchard
Hidden behind the softball fields and locked behind closed gates the orchard grows sparkling with tinsel and ripe with fruit. Photo by Bekah Denny

Sprouting next to the Coronado garden, 28 trees have grown to maturity in the student and teacher run orchard. The orchard, in its third year, is the district’s largest high school orchard. Peaches, plums, pluots, pomegranates, apples, lemons, limes, pistachio, and figs grow and thrive in the orchard.

“The garden and orchard allow the special education students to feel important. They go out there almost daily to water and pick the fruits and make baskets. I love going out there and seeing all of the trees they’ve planted,” Emily Baity, senior, said.

This year’s harvest started in mid-March, granting up to 20 baseball-sized fruits and about 20 golf-ball-sized fruits. During the year, the class sells baskets of vegetables from their garden to staff members, and in spring the fruit is added in as well; however, basket season has ended, so the class shares the leftover fruit with students and teachers.  

Throughout the school year, Mr. Manning and his special education students take care of the garden and orchard, visiting the trees two to three times a week to maintain and harvest the fruit for teachers and staff. During the summer Mr. Manning is its primary caretaker, with occasional help from students, parents and support staff.

The trees are covered in red and silver tinsel, some even donning ornaments making them resemble Christmas trees. According to Mr. Manning the tinsel helps keep away the birds looking to eat the fruit. They see the tinsel waving in the wind and perceive it as fire.

“It is a huge battle to keep the birds from eating the fruit because they know exactly when it’s ripe,” Mr. Manning said.

Located past the tennis courts the orchard is a secret garden holding a multitude of fruits, and is currently in the middle of its peach harvest.

“Look at it as you go by and see the trees, especially now that they are in bloom,” Mr. Manning said.