Our New England climate is known for crisp, cool air in the fall, and the changing seasons are well-suited to growing apple trees. What began as a dream of two students in their quest to establish a legacy that would serve as a sustainable project quickly grew into an initiative that would soon be adopted by the Wheaton Community. The dedication and planting of the Murphy Apple Orchard in 2009 has been widely embraced—not only as a tribute to Jerry Murphy, a beloved professor—but as a commemoration to Wheaton’s history.
Just three years young, the Murphy Apple Orchard has indeed become the living, learning laboratory envisioned in the early planning stages of the orchard. In its first year, the orchard became the site for several outdoor classes. The Sustainability Education for Environmental Development (S.E.E.D.s) group held several classes with pre-school aged children in the apple orchard. Professor Ninian Stein’s Environmental Anthropology class began meeting in the orchard as early as the fall of 2009. In addition to the orchard as an outdoor classroom, the orchard provides work and learning opportunities for students who enjoy digging in the soil and providing care for the trees throughout the seasons.
Above all else, the Murphy Apple Orchard serves to connect the Wheaton Community to its roots while providing a model of sustainable growth—which is, after all the direction Professor Murphy was leading the campus towards.