RIVERVIEW, N.B. -- A group of high school students in Riverview, N.B. are giving back to their community by getting their hands dirty.

Sitting along Riverview’s Riverfront Trail, new little buds soak up the sun and prepare to bloom.

“They worked really hard,” says Jenny Hendy, Educational Assistant at Riverview High School. “They planted ten trees over here, four pear trees and six apple trees.”

The trees were planted by a group of neurodivergent high school seniors, who take part in the YMCA’s Community Action Networking program.

“They were really tired of hearing about COVID, and talking about that problem, so we switched gears,” says Nicole Wry of the YMCA Community Action Network. “They really wanted to work with food security.”

The group decided to plan – and plant – for the future, by planting fruit trees across the Riverfront Trail.

They hope the trees help provide healthy food for anyone in their community who needs it, as well as supporting area pollinators.

“When we were doing the research, one of the big things we noticed was that apple trees and pear trees bring in butterflies,” says Wry.

“It’s going to take about three years to come to full fruit, but the buds themselves will help long before we actually get some of the fruit,” says Hendy. “For the butterflies and the bees, and to help sustain the environment that we’re after.”

Hendy says the team’s dirty work isn’t done just yet.

“We have a few more trees that we’re going to plant, some right up at the high school and then up in Salisbury as well,” says Hendy.

Throughout the planting project, the group has learned an important lesson – money doesn’t grow on trees, but nourishing food does.

“People are going to be talking about the trees, but they’re also going to actually get the fruits of their labour, pun intended,” laughs Wry. “They’ll be able to walk along the trail in three years and pick an apple, or a pear, and eat it.”

Enjoying the fruits of their labour for years to come.