The North Country Healthy Heart Network recently planted two apple trees in honor of outgoing Executive Director, Margot Gold. Retiring after 16 years as the Heart Network’s first Executive Director, Gold left one dream project in its infancy. It was in the spirit of that project that the two trees were planted.
Gold has always wanted to pilot a project she calls “Apple Corps.” Modeled after the Portland Fruit Tree Project in Portland, Oregon, Apple Corps would provide low-income families with increased access to fresh fruit. Gold envisioned apple trees being planted and cared for by organizations that would then be responsible for harvesting and sharing the fruit with those in need. At the same time, she imagined an Apple Corps Coalition forming; a community group that would work to identify existing trees in the community and invite owners to share a portion of the tree’s fruit in exchange for assistance with the harvest. The Apple Corps Coalition would help recruit and organize harvest volunteers and plan education programs to teach people how to care for the trees and preserve their fruit. Gold saw the eventual potential to establish an annual community Apple Festival, something much like has occurred with the Saranac Lake Daffest.
As Margot retires, this project is still a work in progress. As a thank you and in recognition of Gold’s 16 years of service, Heart Network staff and Board of Directors planted the first seed, literally. Two apple trees have been planted in Margot’s honor at the Saranac Lake Community Garden on Old Lake Colby Road where they will be cared for by members of the garden. The garden already operates in the same spirit as Apple Corps. The Community Garden is currently home to several garden plots where food is cultivated and distributed by gardeners at the Food Pantry on Saturdays. In a few years, when the apple trees start to produce apples, those too will be handed out on Saturdays.
In honor of Margot’s vision and years of service, the Heart Network hopes others will follow and consider planting an apple tree at their home or workplace and donate a portion of the apple harvest to a local school, daycare, neighbor, or food pantry.