Designing Orchards

There’s more to Greg Finkle’s passion than architectural design.

As an architect, Greg Finkle designs buildings. But when he’s not busy with the projects at Finkle + Williams Architecture, the firm he founded, he’s busy designing programs that help low-income people, children and community groups in Kansas City grow their own food.

Finkle is one of three founders of The Giving Grove, a non-profit program of the Kansas City Community Garden. He and co-founders Kevin Birzer and Ray Makalous officially launched it in 2013 when they realized hunger was an increasing issue in the Kansas City area.

The Giving Grove plants tree gardens on deserted property, in vacant lots, next to food pantries and on school and church grounds. The group decided to grow fruit and nut trees because they are sustainable and nutritious. More than 2,000 new fruit and nut trees have been planted at 133 sites, with an annual harvest potential of 256 tons.

Finkle said that executive director Rob Reiman, the staff and board have carried out the vision and execution well. The neighborhood stewards who watch over the orchards play an important role.

Finkle said reaching more people is the next goal. “We have a proven model and we want to make it portable to other cities in other states,” he said.