The Communities Take Root program will help plant the Wrangell Orchard.

Wrangell residents will plant fruit trees Saturday as part of a sustainable-food and health-awareness effort. The event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Evergreen Elementary School on Bennett Street.

Kris Reed of the Wrangell Medical Center is part of the project.

“The holes have all been dug, so there won’t be a lot of work involved. It’ll be pretty much putting the tree in the hole and there will be a little bit of talk also about how to care for them,” she says.

Twenty-eight trees, plus some berry bushes, will be planted. Community members have been coordinating with a Pennsylvania nonprofit group and a Washington state nursery.

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation has worked with Raintree Nurseries, which is a place that many folks in Southeast do get their trees and ornamentals from. They’re accustomed to working with Southeast and know what grows here well and what people have had success with,” Reed says.

The effort is being funded by the Dreyer’s Fruit Bars “Communities Take Root” program. Towns are selected by an online voting system that includes information about each project.

“Anyone can read these stories and really support the organizations that they feel are close to their heart,” says program spokeswoman Melissa Marasco.

She says Wrangell’s description was persuasive. It included some statistics and the fact that fruits and vegetables arrive by weekly barge.

“That’s a really touching story, that only 25 percent of their residents receive adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. That’s a story that must have resonated with people, of course, within Wrangell, but elsewhere throughout the country and throughout the world,” she says.

The program has an educational component.

Reed of the medical center says children used to getting fruit from a store will learn more about where it comes from and how it’s grown.

She says the orchard is also part of a larger community health effort.

“From the medical perspective, things such as diabetes and obesity are problems in Alaska and nationwide,” Reed says.” It provides an opportunity to open some of those discussions, not only with the kids, but with the community in general, in terms of what choices can we make in our lives to help us to be happier, healthier people.

The orchard will include apple, plum, and cherry trees. Reed says once they mature, anyone from town will be able to pick fresh fruit.

The 10 a.m. Saturday ceremony starts with comments from representatives of the Wrangell Medical Center, the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Dreyer’s Fruit Bars. Actual planting will begin at 11 a.m.

Read Wrangell’s proposal. Click here, then chose the “2011 Winners” tab. Then scroll down to the fifth entry.