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Hometown Farmer - South Sioux Community Orchard

Hometown Farmer - South Sioux Community Orchard

"These are actually fruit-bearing trees," said Gene Maffit, South Sioux City Parks Director. "And we didn't have any in the parks that do that."

South Sioux City does now!

About 200 of them, actually, all growing in the Community Orchard on East 17th Street.

"And last year, we actually, for the first time, had some apples," said Maffit, with a smile.

That's pretty good, considering the trees and plants in question were just planted in 2014 and it can take up to five years to get'em goin'.

But you should be on the lookout for something new, about to pop up next to those plants.

"We're calling it a cabin, but it's a bit more than that," said Maffit.

There'll be a ground-breaking later this spring for the learning-center-cabin.

"The ash cladding that'll be on the outside will actually be from South Sioux," said Maffit. "It'll be home-grown lumber."

It takes a small community of volunteers to keep everything growing, though.

Diana Kincaid works with the bees.

Yep, there's a hive here, too.

"Our goal is not only to be able to give the community exposure to apples or have resource for apples, but also for honey," said Kincaid.

So in the future, when you're strolling around picking fruit, just give the bees their space and you'll be fine.

"They're not aggressive at all, they're just foraging, trying to find their food," said Kincaid. "So if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone."

All of the land, about three acres, isn't just about the fresh food that'll be grown: it's about teaching people.

"We don't need to eat fast food all the time, not that we can't do that, but we need to get down and actually eat some food that's really good for us," said Carol Larvick, UNL Extension Educator. "This is excellent for people to see how food is grown, and it tastes good, especially picked straight off of the tree."

It won't be long before there'll be plenty of fruit to pick.

"Eventually, each tree will produce somewhere in the neighborhood of five to ten apples each, which will get us up to about one thousand bushels," said Ron Macomber, a Community Orchard volunteer.

You can find out more about the community orchard here: southsiouxcity.org/eGov/

If you think of a farmer you'd like to see featured on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jacob Heller at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com.

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