College Pond’s Apple Orchard: Why Town Meeting Matters

Springtime at the apple orchard, College Pond

As most residents of Weston know, the town is blessed with 2,000 acres of Conservation and open space, much of it donated or purchased in the 1950s through the 1970s. Without the tireless work of Weston Forest & Trail volunteers as well as people who thought more about community than about 7,000 square foot houses, Weston would look a lot different from how it does today. The suburban growth of the 1960s (and the Owl house is circa 1965 so she knows this) would have wiped out the large open spaces at Highland, Jericho, Ogilvie, and College Pond.

As most people know, Town Meeting is today, and while it looks different from the days in Town Hall and in the High School Auditorium (hello football field), the importance of showing up is the same. In 1977, in the middle of a terrible blizzard, the townspeople who came out to exercise their votes preserved an incredible piece of property known as College Pond. It was a contentious evening, but in the end, the land that once comprised the farms of Herbert and Charles Merriam and Grant Walker was bought from Weston College. For the full amazing story, please read Brian Donahue’s Reclaiming the Commons which is an amazing story of farms, fields and forests.

The apple orchard that was first on the site just west of Merriam Street and east of Burchard Park was first tended by the Jesuit priests at what is now the Campion Center. Sadly these trees were in terrible shape when the town purchased the 146 acres parcel. In 1980, Brian Donahue and Faith Rand removed the trees and planted new ones. After years of care, the trees still struggled. In an email to the Owl a few months ago, Brian calls it one of his biggest failures–and considering all the successes he has had and the importance of his work to the town of Weston (Green Power, Land’s Sake, WFTA, on and on), we’re going to forgive this one.

Fortunately, there was a “green tag team” and in 2009, a Boy Scout project by Will Jacobs planted new apple and peach trees. The trees continue to face challenges of brush overgrowth, bark damage from small mammals chomping, and deers grazing. Rees Tulloss, Conservation Commissioner, and other volunteers took over care of the orchard a few years ago, and the trees are now treated for winter moth infestations, and brush trimmed back.

In the late summer, walkers in College Pond will find the pleasantly tangy apples on the branches–while often misshapen, they are absolutely delicious. Everyone is welcome to pick them but asked not to climb them, due to the fragility of the branches and bark.

In the spring, the branches are filled with blooms and the hillside beckons a picnic blankets, some kids and a dog. Nearby you can find the Merriam barn ruins, and “Picnic Rock” overlooking College Pond. Come to town meeting first, Weston, and then enjoy.

Park at Burchard Park or in the two or three spaces above the orchard on Concord Road.

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