By Angela Pace
Where there once was an apple tree, there is a lamp post – and fertile soil is now a parking lot.
Orem”s bustling streets were once home to a large fruit farming community, and two BYU professors are making a film about the change.
April Haws, assistant professor of media arts, and Gary Daynes, assistant professor of history, are working side by side on a documentary tentatively called, “By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them.”
The film will be a history of the lifestyles and cultures of the people who ran the orchards and fruit stands in Orem as early as the mid 19th century, Haws said.
Orem was originally a fruit town named after a railroad baron, Walter Orem.
The townspeople hoped he would bring the railroads to Orem for their fruit businesses and so named the town after him, Haws said.
Daynes said the documentary will portray a way of life that is largely disappearing throughout the United States.
He said the orchards supported a way of life that valued stability, hard work and cooperation within the community – entities that are dying in today”s culture.
With students and research assistants, the professors have interviewed 50 people and read dozens of journals and books over the last 18 months.
Haws said the documentary provides a unique opportunity for students from both the media arts and history departments to work together.
“The project gets students out into the community working with organizations and individuals on the orchards,” Daynes said.
Haws said Orem”s urban road system still shows remains of a former farming community.
“There is no downtown district like Provo,” Haws said. “You have a lot of roads that are curved and dead ended because they were planned around the orchards.”
Haws said one of the reasons she is making the film is because she has lived in Orem for 20 years and has seen the change happen in her lifetime.
“It”s something I want to do because it”s part of my story and I”ve watched it happen,” Haws said.
Joseph Andersen, 25, a senior from Orem majoring in international studies at BYU, is also an Orem city council member.
Andersen said he has seen the city change in just the last 10 years.
“There were trees everywhere and it was beautiful until they fell victim to development,” Andersen said.
He said some of the orchards are owned by families who can no longer afford to keep the land, so they sell their property to developers.
“It”s sad to see them go,” Andersen said. “Those are our roots.”