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Four Madison area public gardening ventures are competing for a free orchard from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Edy’s fruit bars.

In the national contest — in which supporters vote online for their favorite public garden project — five winners will receive fruit and nut trees and equipment. Entrants must pledge to care for the trees and use them for a charitable purpose.

The competitors and their vote totals as of Sunday were Wingra Park, 4,405; Eagle Heights Community Garden, 3,589; Marlborough Park in the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood, 1,156; and the Kids’ Garden at Troy Gardens, 850. Two of the gardens, Wingra and Eagle Heights, were Nos. 2 and 4 among all entrants nationwide, according to the foundation’s website.

Friends of Wingra Park want to plant an orchard along a bicycle path in the park and along busy Monroe Street.

The UW-Madison’s Eagle Heights Community Gardens, which is in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, plans to extend a fruit tree management program that started in 2007 with 36 dwarf fruit trees, including heritage apple varieties. Organizers there hope to press their first cider this fall.

The Allied Wellness Center plans to add an orchard to the community garden at Marlborough Park.

At Troy Gardens, where Community GroundWorks has established the Kids’ Garden, the group wants to involve the child gardeners by adding to an existing collection of mulberry trees.

A just-sprouting Middleton public garden won an orchard in April in one of the foundation’s monthly contests. The Bock Community Forest and Garden lobbied its supporters and gathered 13,000 votes to win. It hopes to plant an orchard of apples, pears and cherries to complement the community garden.

Planting trees in city parks is a carefully managed process, said Kay Rutledge, parks planning manager.

“We not only look at location but also type and species of trees to make sure the installation is compatible with the location and existing uses within the park,” she said.

To vote for a favorite, go to www.communitiestakeroot.com and “vote for a community.” Voters can cast ballots up to once a day through Aug. 31. Providing support for the Madison efforts is an informal group called Madison Fruit and Nuts, which operates a website at www.madisonfruitsandnuts.org. More information is also available at SustainableTimes, www.sustainabletimes.net.

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, based in Mill Valley, Calif., is dedicated to planting 18 billion fruit trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities and improve the environment. The nonprofit donates orchards at places including public schools, city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations and international hunger relief sites.

— Dee J. Hall contributed to this report.

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