This summer, Camp McDowell has been participating in Communities Take Root, a national contest sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
Twelve communities in the United States were awarded fruit orchards last year. Five new winners were announced in May and four more were notified in July.
More than 23,000 votes have been cast for Camp McDowell on the Communities Take Root website so far.
Despite hovering in the top 10 for months, the Episcopal camp, conference and educational center has been bypassed by other groups at the end of each voting cycle.
“It’s been a little frustrating because we stay up there and then get bumped just out of selection at the last minute,” said Jon Nee, farm education director at Camp McDowell.
Camp McDowell is currently in fourth place on the leader board, which puts it in line to win one of the fruit orchards. However, fewer than 600 votes separate it from fifth place, a children’s home in Illinois.
The next round of winners will be posted on Wednesday.
Nee said the fruit orchard, if secured, will become part of Bethany Village. Part of the proposed expansion is a new residential farm education program that will operate similarly to the successful McDowell Environmental Center.
Nee said the selected site for the orchard is highly visible so that visitors can enjoy the fruit before it is harvested as well as after it is picked and incorporated into cafeteria meals.
“If we win, we will get 50 to 100 fruit trees.
The selection of the trees happens once we win in a process between us and a tree specialist from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation,” Nee said.
Camp McDowell is one of three communities in Alabama participating in Communities Take Root and the only one in the top 10.
To vote, visit www.communitiestakeroot.com