MADISON, Wis. - After 14 years, the city of Madison wants to uproot six fruit trees that a man planted on the city's far west side.
"I've tended them. I've cared for them. I've nurtured them," said Mark Bauman of the trees he planted in his Meadowood neighborhood.
Bauman said he believes his apple, pear and plum trees are cultivating the community off Lynndale Road.
"I really love harvesting their fruit, and I love that it brings a sense of community around here," Bauman said.
He said his yard doesn't get much direct sunlight, so he planted the trees in the terrace next to his home. But a city ordinance prohibits putting fruit trees there.
In July, he was told the six trees had to go. Laura Whitmore, community relations coordinator for the Madison Parks Department, said the low-hanging branches interfered with the ability of city streets department crews to do their work.
Whitmore said workers reported that the tree limbs were smashing into city vehicles.
"We are actually offering to transport these trees to a public park, a more suitable location," Whitmore said.
The city will pay to move the trees. Whitmore said the city has agreed to wait until all the fruit has been harvested before moving the trees.
There aren't any grocery stores near Bauman's west side home, so he shares the fruit he grows. Supporters of his fruit trees said they're planting good nutrition in one of the city's identified areas where fresh produce can be difficult for residents to find.
The Madison Area Permaculture Guild said the trees should stay. It has launched an online petition to save Bauman's trees.
"Food is a wonderful way to gather people around. Everybody needs to eat, but it's also an educational thing because a lot of people have forgotten where their food comes from," said Kate Heiber-Cobb with the Madison Area Permaculture Guild.
Bauman said he's concerned the mature trees won't survive if they are moved.
"I'd like to push the city to change their city ordinance so it would permit the growing of fruit trees here," he said.
He also said moving the trees will keep children in his neighborhood from reaping nature's rewards.
"Every year, they come knocking on my door, ringing the doorbell, (saying), 'Mr. Bauman, can I have some plums? I see your cherries are ripening; can I have some cherries?'" he said.
The Madison Area Permaculture Guild said it plans to present the signatures it has collected to the Madison Parks Commission on Nov. 7. The group said it hopes it will cultivate a discussion to change the ordinance.
The group's petition can be found at this website.
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