Archive for the ‘Fruit Tree Stewardship’ Category

Aug20

Out in the Orchard: Falling Fruit

It’s my turn to blog a bit about my City Fruit world. I’m Barb Burrill, the orchard steward coordinator. I support the volunteers who take care of 11 orchards on public land in Seattle, and coordinate orchard care with Seattle Parks grounds staff.

I became involved with City Fruit as a volunteer orchard steward for the fruit trees along the Burke-Gilman Trail in Wallingford. That orchard started with six trees and now has 41. Learn more about the orchards that City Fruit volunteers manage at the orchard stewards web pages.

If you have a fruit tree or two in your yard, or your neighborsCodling moth damage on apple
do, you notice when fruit starts falling on the ground. Falling fruit can be a sign of fruit ripening on your tree, or, if it’s too early for your fruit to be ready, it’s probably evidence of insect damage.

For apples and pears, take a look at the fruit on the ground and see if it has the tell-tale exit holes of codling moth larvae (see photo at right.) The rust-colored material is what the codling moth larva leaves behind when it exits the apple: chewed material and excrement, called “frass.” Just makes you want to take a big bite out of that apple, doesn’t it?

You can still use fruit that has codling moth damage – just cut out what the worms have damaged. Codling moth larvae typically focus on the core of the apple, so most of the apple’s flesh is left intact.

Keeping a clean orchard floor is an easy way to reduce the local fruit-infesting insect population. Pick up any fallen fruit within a couple of days and dispose of it in your curbside compost bin – not your home compost pile – before the maggot can crawl out of the fruit and continue its life cycle.

Cleaning up fallen fruit will help reduce the overwintering population of insect pests and keep all nearby fruit trees healthier. Have a chat with your neighbors if your sidewalk is gooey with squashed fruit. Or put on your garden gloves and help pick it up.

Neighbors under 18 might enjoy making a game of throwing the fallen fruit into the compost bin. Thanks to our orchard steward volunteers from Lakeside School for showing us how that’s done.

Enjoy the rest of summer! And keep watering those fruit trees every week.

Barb Burrill is the orchard steward coordinator for City Fruit.
Aug14

New to Fruit Trees – Summer Pruning

Pruning copyThis past weekend, I attended City Fruit’s second Sunday series at City People’s Garden Store on summer pruning with Bill Wanless.  The class was packed – over 30 attendees! Clearly, this is a topic of interest.

While my plum tree is too young for summer pruning, here are some tips and tricks to help promote growth and fruit production.

August is the best time for summer pruning. We prune fruit trees in the summer to improve the health of the tree, protect against pests and fungal disease, and produce more fruit or flowers. To make room for more sun and air, consider these cuts during summer pruning:

  • Cutting back new shoots that crowd the larger, more established branches,
  • Removing dead and broken branches,
  • Removing all suckers — branches that are growing from the base of the tree

Don’t prune too much – no more than a quarter of the total leaf surface in any one year. And don’t try to fix a tree in one year; if the tree needs a lot of work, do it over several years. For more guidance, check out this City Fruit video with Ciscoe Morris and Kristen Ramer Liang or this resource sheet.

Catherine Morrison is executive director of City Fruit and new to fruit trees. She planted her first tree, a Hollywood plum, earlier this year.  

Jun26

The cherries are coming!

photo (1)In my opening New to Fruit Trees blog, I said I was disappointed not to find a single fruit tree in my yard after moving to Seattle from Washington, DC. Not so fast. Let’s call this my second #fruitfail.  Not one, or two, but five — I have five cherry trees in my yard.  Seattle is truly an urban orchard. (To be fair, at the time, no cherries were growing!)

For help identifying our trees, I was able to call on one of City Fruit’s many experts. Laila Suidan, a trained arborist, taught me about each type of tree (and plant) in our yard and provided instruction on care and maintenance. Among other things, she taught me that many fruit trees, including cherry trees, have identifying lenticels on their bark.

City Fruit will soon launch a set of residential services, including connection to experts that can help identify and assess your fruit trees and assist in tree care and management. If you’re interested, please email info@cityfruit.org and we’ll send you more information. 

I’m looking forward to our first harvest of cherries this week! If you aren’t lucky enough to have cherry trees in your backyard, make sure to sign up for Collins Orchards CSA. Deliveries started June 25th, but you can sign-up at anytime.  The first few weeks of the CSA will include Early Robin Rainier cherries.


 

City Fruit members receive a 10% discount on the CSA! Join City Fruit Today — members may request the discount code by email.


 

Catherine Morrison is the executive director of City Fruit.  Follow her blog series and send your New to Fruit Tree questions to info@cityfruit.org

 

 

Jul19

Orchard Stewards Attend Fruit Tree Biology Class

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City Fruit’s Executive Director, Gail Savina, teaches new orchard stewards about fruit tree biology.

What is a branch collar? Where does the scion meet the rootstock? Last Saturday morning, representatives from 9 different urban orchards learned the answers to those questions and more at Fruit Tree Biology class at Bradner Gardens Park.

 
City Fruit director, Gail Savina, explained the parts of a tree and how to select varieties to grow in maritime climates during class. Bradner was the perfect location for applying the knowledge we learned immediately as we examined the compartmentalization, or the sealing off of a wound, and growth structure of an old apple tree. We also learned how to identify where first-year growth ended and new growth started which is important to know when trying to figure out where to prune; some fruit trees produce fruit on older branches while others will produce on new.

 

Most class attendees were new stewards with City Fruit’s urban orchard stewardship program. City Fruit stewards commit to working at an orchard for two years and attending four work parties per year. In return, City Fruit provides free trainings, Fruit Tree Biology being the first of three core classes. Interested in becoming a steward? Click here to find out more information.

 

Interested in learning more about fruit tree biology and general fruit tree care? Check out City Fruit’s online resource page for factsheets, book recommendations, and helpful harvest tips.

By Amanda Lee

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Footies on fruit tree in the Bradner Garden Park

 

 

 

 

 

Feb04

A conversation with Barb Burrill, Burke-Gilman Trail Orchard Steward

Note:  Two weeks after Lori interviewed Barb Burrill for this post, Barb was named a national finalish for Volunteer of the Year, an award organized by the Alliance for Community Trees in Boston. 

Barb and I met at Mosaic Coffeehouse in Wallingford, which she recommended. This sprawling space, below a church, has lots of big mismatched tables and chairs, comfy chairs and sofas,  and a whole separate room for kids. And they take donations for the coffee, tea, and sweets, so you pay what you’d like. So cool. I can see why Barb loves it so much! Gail was with us in spirit, too, as half the questions I asked Barb were hers…

Lori: How did you end up becoming an orchard steward?

Barb: My son started school at John Stanford International. To get there, you walk along the Burke-Gilman from our house. So I’d walk him to school and pick him up. . .  .  I’m trying to remember now. I noticed some trees. Well, really two trees, along the way. One of them took me a long time to notice, because it was a tree that was totally enveloped by laurel. You could only see it when it bloomed. I could see it sticking out the top.

Barb sharing cider

Barb sharing cider

 

So I’d had some training before with Green Seattle Partnership (now Forterra). And so I knew, had experience, in removing invasives, and that’s pretty much what it was at that point with those trees, just finding the tree under the laurel, and then blackberries with the crabapple. So then I started noticing more trees along the trail, that was my main route. And then I went farther in both directions. I had that in mind. And then—I don’t know how—I heard about City Fruit. . . . So had that connection. So then when they started talking about the orchard stewards, I suggested, I guess, it was 6 trees on the Burke-Gilman. 

And then the Burke-Gilman got selected! And I thought “Alright!” It’s such a strange park. I mean it’s trees that have been either abandoned or volunteers. There are now 23, and then there are two others, we keep finding them!

Lori: What are the outlier trees? The farthest one way versus the other way?  

Barb: The farthest that we have taken on is the University Bridge to the east. . . . The other end is Northlake Place and Northlake Street, which is just west of the new Center of Wooden Boats, which is west of Gasworks. There’s one there, and one tiny one beyond that. So that’s the farthest west. But the tiny one needs to be moved, because that’s totally shaded. I do count that one. And there are a couple just across from Gasworks that aren’t official, they’re on a really steep slope and totally shaded, so it could be 25 trees now. Unless we plant some.

Gail: How do you keep people interested in pulling blackberries and ivy? How have you managed to create and keep such a loyal group over the past 3 years?

Barb: Well, it’s a fluid group. The big work parties, which have done most of the invasive removal recently, and a small core. In the past, our first work parties, we did do some blackberry work and then follow up. But it’s something where you really need a lot of people and generally, if you have a larger group of people, there’s a certain core that likes to do that. Most people do not like to do that. [Lori giggles.] But the ones who do, do really get into it. We have, really 3, maybe 4, people in our group that like to do that, so it’s not something that we do all the time.

And I guess that’s part of it. With our core group, there are certain things that they like to do, some don’t go on ladders, and most don’t do pruning. So it’s kind of the thing, we can choose what we do, and now that our trees are cleared, there are sort of easier chores that can be done for most of them.

Bruke-Gilman work party

Burke-Gilman work party

Lori: So they can follow their passions?

Barb: Yeah, and if it fits into their schedule. So things like — we had a couple who were planting daffodil bulbs, just as an apple tree guild. And they did that as they could.  We have more people working now than initially, so it’s harder to get together as the whole group. But it’s a combination now between the small group that is doing things over time and then the other, bigger, corporate groups. There’s one more—I have a meeting tomorrow with Seattle Parks to see if we can clear another area around some new trees now: one a volunteer and one that was planted. Once that’s done, though, the maintenance is pretty minimal. Do you put socks on? And harvesting. And thinning. Those are the big things.

Lori: So Gail’s question about how you keep a loyal support group, I heard fluid, I heard as their schedules allow, and I heard small core group and using temporary big groups.

Barb: Yeah. Flexible. . . . I’ve been trying to get somebody to be in charge of scheduling, because I find it hard to schedule myself out. And then we have people—some who can’t come on Sunday mornings, some who can’t do Saturday mornings, so that. I’d like to delegate that scheduling to somebody who can manage that and then to have that published so that the people who like us on Facebook, who have come from corporate groups, can find it and take part, so it’s a little easier for them.

Lori: What have been the best moments, your favorite moments, as an orchard steward so far?

Barb: It’s always fun when people stop, and thank us, for what we’re doing. It’s really interesting—it’s amazing—to me, how that varies depending on where we are on the trail. Even though it’s about a mile and a half, yet not everybody goes the whole length of the trail. We get certain kinds of affection in certain areas and others not so much, it’s really interesting. Maybe it’s certain people who see us more often, I don’t know.

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

And then last year was really good, because we had such a big harvest, which was amazing, with just that little bit of love. I mean it’s mostly just been clearing and spreading bedspread compost from the zoo, and not even—very, very little pruning—but a HUGE difference. And that’s how we’ve had the most reaction, because people can see through the trees and between the trail and the sidewalk, and they are amazed at how it feels. It’s so open, and they can see the trees, they can see the apples when they’re on the tree, and they’re not left to rot on the ground. It really is, it’s beautiful, and has an arboretum sort of feeling there, so there I think we’ve had the most response from people. Pruning the trees as they grow out over the trail, too, they were obstructing as much as half the width of the Trail —  so yeah, we have a lot of good feedback.

Lori: I thought the fact that when you did the cider pressing in the fall, that’s one of my favorite orchard steward moments. You letting different people use the cider press along the trail. I go to lots of cider presses, and usually there’s a couple of big, burly experts doing the cider pressing. Yours was so unique. There were kids using it, and lots and lots of people trying it and using it, and you had a lot of us who became expert in the process of using it, not showing up as experts.

Barb: That was our second year. The first year we had two—a brother and sister, probably only 6 and 8 years old—and they ran it two out of the three hours. [We laugh.] Because that’s normal for our little cider pressings, to have kids doing it.

Gail: What are the most difficult aspects of managing this linear orchard along a trail?

Barb: Well, keeping track of what’s going on with individual trees is really hard for me. It’s another area we could use some help. We’ve toyed with the idea of assigning a steward to each tree, but we don’t have people living along the same area. The hardest part is to be aware of what’s going on. Once you decide to go there, they’re not that far away, but it’s, you know, what stage they are. I’ve been keeping track of blooming times, and harvest times, and so now I know which come first, and which are next, so that helps.

Lori: I can imagine. Most of the other orchards–I’ve been to 6 or 7 in Seattle this past year–and most of them when you’re in the orchard, you can yell at each other, regardless of where you are, you can hear each other, and you can sort of coordinate on the fly, from within shouting distance.

Barb: And we generally don’t do more than one location during a work party, and that’s kind of tricky too, because some of them are just individual trees. But yeah, for this, we’re having a group from Washington State University come on March 10th, and it’s a very organized group from there. It’s their spring break, and they do service in different areas around the state, and we were chosen as one of their sites, so I want to get them a good experience, but I don’t really have much for them to do where we have a lot of trees, I mean they’re in pretty good shape. And they’re not pruners or grafters. So it’s getting a little trickier to find a big area for people to do things other than pulling invasives and hauling wood chips.

Lori: More guild planting?

Barb:  Yeah. But we need, we have a lot of slopes, where blackberries need to be pulled and then replaced with something.

Part of the orchard is under I-5

Part of the orchard is under I-5

Barb: But, I tell ya, the main challenge for me is working under I-5. It is so noisy. That’s where the cider pressing was. I have to have ear plugs, really good ear plugs.

Lori: I’m going to write that down for Gail: “Remove section of I-5.” [We laugh.]

Barb: Yeah. It’s really. I mean, talk about not being able to communicate when you’re right next to somebody.

Lori: Who in the orchard steward community has been an inspiration to you or a mentor for you?

Barb: Well, Craig Thompson is amazing. I’m just so inspired by him.

Lori: At Jose Rizal?

Barb: Yes, Jose Rizal. Yes, how much he gets done. And then his persistence. [She belly laughs.] It’s not like we have had any real issues here. We just, I’ve had great support. From Parks. And we haven’t really had  many problems. But he’s been working there for a long time, and had a lot of things that he’s dealt with, so yeah. He just gets things done.

And also, another inspiration is, not an orchard steward group but an urban forest group. Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail, they work up around 65th, and they do major, major restoration, and they are so persistent and consistent. They’re mostly retired, and they do strictly restoration. They just have been at that for years, doing amazing work.

Gail: What ideas do you have about educating the public about these fruit trees, and where did your ideas come from?

Barb: Well, since it’s so strung out, we’ve talked about having walking tours. And that’s possible a couple of different ways. In Wallingford there is Wallingford Walks. So it would be fine as one of those. And also, last spring, I met Penny who is the Tree Ambassador for Greenlake and Wallingford, I think she’s the first one.

Lori: What a great title!

Barb: Yeah! Isn’t it? And she’s something. She’s got a digital tour of the trees around Greenlake. And so you can have it on your phone, but ah, wouldn’t that be nice? She’s already done it. And we only have 20 something trees compared to her–she doesn’t have every single tree on it–and all the different species, but yeah. The Wallingford Walks are fun, because they’re really community based. We’re a little trickier, because where do you end up [laughs] once you’re in the area? If you started at one end, you could end up, there’s Essential Baking Company on the hill, we could end there. Then there’d be a coffee shop.

Lori: Yeah, human logistics. Need a bathroom stop along the way, coffee. Essential Baking would be a great stop. We were just in there.

Barb: They’re pretty much straight up from that last tree.

Lori: That reminds me of something I read last summer. Some village in England or Ireland or Scotland. They made their entire village a walking tour. They put up permanent plaques. And you can do it without a guide person. And you can go from plaque to plaque, and there’s a digital component. You can scan things and get more information for the entire town.

Barb: Well, yeah. There’s so much history. With these trees, you can get that in there, and gosh, I . . .  found Paul Dorpat’s Web site. He’s amazing historian. He does the “Now and Then” column for the Pacific NW Magazine in the Sunday Seattle Times. I’ve been meaning to talk to him for a long time about the history of these trees and what he knows about the trees on the trail. And you get on his web site and he has digitized plats from 1912 so you can see what was going on where these trees are in the city at that time. Most of them are old trees.

Lori: And you’re also doing the Facebook page, which seems to be educating the public.

Barb: Yeah, yeah. I always link it to City Fruit education, and to fruit tree education and care in general, because I just like to talk to people in the neighborhood about their trees. And they don’t usually know what’s going on with us, in south Wallingford. They know about Merridian probably more so, but yeah, they just think it’s a great idea. Pretty much the most popular question is “What do you do with the fruit?” and we when we say we give most of it away, they’re pretty happy to hear that.

One of the things that’s most exciting about those trees is finding that one—and another that’s not officially part of these—those two trees have amazing, unusual apples.  So that. One is a variety and the other is not, so if we could come up with a new variety for our orchard, that would be very exciting. That was something my dad always dreamed of. My dad had an orchard. That was his dream. That he was going to find some new variety that he could name.

Lori: Yeah. It is fun. Even for someone like me, who doesn’t know anything. I started volunteering for City Fruit in the spring, really excited, right on through July, and then had a lull in energy in August. And then September came and suddenly I was going to orchards and people were handing me apples to taste. It was just so fun!

Barb and Jan

Go sisters!

Lori: It activates a whole other part of you. If you like to cook. If you like to can, home can things. And getting all the new apples, every time I showed up a new apple was put in front of me.

Barb: And what do you do with it? And what is it best for?

Lori: And getting to introduce my friends and family to apples they’d never heard of, or seen.

Barb: Mmm, hmm.

Lori: Those bright red little apples that Craig gave me with the bright white inside, just off the tree!

Barb: We had some like that too. They’re pretty good. We had the most volume of those, 8 boxes. They disappointed me over time. They’re really good at first, and they’re ok keepers, but they don’t knock your socks off with tartness, like this one tree is. Oh yeah. That one’s really been great because it’s so prolific and productive, so it’s good but it’s not amazing like these two others are.

And they vary. I was talking to Lori Brakken, she did some ID’ing. And Bob Norton, he did some of the ID’ing of the apples from some of our trees plus the big one at the John Stafford school. I mean, it’s a really sad tree– it’s got scab, in a terrible location–but it tastes like champagne! I mean, or like a chardonnay or something, it’s amazingly complex. And Bob was just blown away, which I thought “This is very cool, if Bob Norton thinks this is great!” So I still had some left to ID, and Lori was doing that for us.  They all turned out to be seedlings, not an identifiable variety.  And she said it varies with these seedlings. They vary from year to year and you have to see how consistent they are. I mean, I’m not used to that!

Lori: Interesting!

Barb: Yeah, because some were so grim. I mean they just had no flavor, and then you wonder, it’s like, well,  are they going to be better this year? And then what does that mean?

Lori: And they’ve only had a little bit of love.

Barb: You were talking about trying different apples. We got some really tart ones, and then the ones from the school, at a school Move-A-Thon they do every October. So the kids are running, walking, biking right by three of our trees. We had a little table where we offered samples of our apples, and the kids were loving it. They just thought that was the coolest thing. They especially liked the apples that made them pucker up. 

Lori: It’s fun to see adults kind of act like little kids. I noticed that at the cider tasting along the trail too. It’s interesting to watch. Some people are just too busy to even stop. And those that do are amazed. What, it’s free?!  That is a strength of being a trail orchard. So many people coming through.

Community celebration work along the trail

Community celebration work along the trail

Barb: Oh yeah. On a nice day. Yeah. It’s getting them to slow down. Some signage would be nice. Getting people to stop and investigate the tree. We don’t have that, other than when we’re out there.

Gail: If you could have any wish for the orchard, what would it be?

Barb: Well, maybe that’s it right there. Signage has not been a big request for us compared to the other orchards. It would be really nice to get something, like what you were talking about, something that has a digital component to it too. And something that can’t be easily taken away. Picked up and run off with. But something like a self-guided tour would be nice, because, as you say, there are so many people that are there. It would just be great if they could stop.

Lori: I’m hearing more about walking tours everywhere I go.

Barb: And to tie in with cideries! There’s a lot of that too. The home brewed cider, which most, at least the people that I know, don’t know anything about cider. Or like my husband, who doesn’t even think he’d like it! And beer, we all love beer, but that whole thing. And having it local. And the local foods.

That’s another thing, another dream is to have some tie of Burke-Gilman apples to a local food company. Gelato or Mighty O Donuts or fritters… So that’s, we’re working on that. I need to do more leg work before harvest. That’s what would be really nice. That one tree would generate enough volume that it would be of interest to a bigger company.

 

Stewarding becomes a family affair

Stewarding becomes a family affair

Lori: My last question is, what do you have planned for 2013?

Barb: Well, we might have that walking tour, but we don’t have any signage. [we giggle together]

But I would like to pursue the food/apple connection. Are you invited to that City Fruit thing next week? That will be some of our cider from our apples, Paul Brookshire, so that’ll be interesting. And Don Ricks talks about drying apples. But I just want to be able to find a use for all these apples and goodies. Promote that. Sell that. Besides the fresh. Because a lot of these apples are not good for fresh, so you have to have other ways to really promote that this is food, and we can do a lot with that as a community.

We’re also going to do some grafting. So that’s the first time. I’d really like to take these two amazing trees and get them grafted to other, better locations. I’ll know more tomorrow if the Parks gardener is in favor of doing that, it’s almost right in front of my house, which I can keep an eye on it. But to get some other trees, or expand the better apples. We do have some problem apples, with the pest management protocol we’re working on. If we’ll be able to improve the health of some of the trees. It’s not bugs so much, it’s scab. It’s really kind of discouraging. Because we’ve done everything we can, and still the scab is so bad. I guess this is the year to see if they make it. Or we need to do something else to move them to a level where they have quality fruit. It varies so much. Some are good but others are just not in the right place, not the right variety, they’re old trees in the wrong place.

Lori: Thanks for your time Barb. And thanks for some of the questions Gail!

Oct27

Celebrating Harvest Season with the Seattle Orchard Stewards

Hello friends,

I’m Lori. You’ve likely seen me asking questions and taking pictures anywhere orchard stewards are gathering. I’m a community story wrangler and a City Fruit volunteer. All the photos I gather live here, a testament to the amazing people who care for Seattle’s fruit and nut trees: http://seattleorchardstewards.tumblr.com/.

Gail asked me to start blogging once a season for City Fruit to summarize what’s been happening across the Seattle orchard steward world and to eventually tell longer orchard steward stories. Grateful for the chance to do so. First up, harvest season. Yay!

Piper orchard’s festival of fruit (Sept 15th)

I’d never been to the North end’s Carkeek Park, or to Piper orchard within, in my 20 years in Seattle. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this amazing place. What the heck have I been doing with my time?!

Daniel and Chris, fellow pie tasters

After months of hot weather and no rain, by mid September the rest of Seattle was crisp (and many of us gardeners more than a bit cranky about it). So walking through the densely forested park–with it’s self-created humidity and damp, earthy smell–up a steep hill to the festival site was pure delight. I’d been sick that week, and I swear this walk healed me.

We drank fresh-pressed cider and ate a slice of apple pie. Then, 20 minutes later, after the pie contest winners were announced, we had a couple more pieces of the award-winning pies for good measure. That was the polite thing to do, right? That is the lie one tells oneself at slice #3.

Apple identification

We talked to Gail who was sharing plums and information with passersby from the City Fruit table. We listened as indentification experts helped people identify their apples and, for a few, their pests.

Magical Piper orchard

Then we took another delightful walk through the woods to the orchard itself, following little “orchard this way” signs along the way, like walking on a life-sized treasure map.
This old orchard is so beautiful, so magical, I can see why orchard steward Don centers his life’s work around it.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Piper orchard to hear more of Don’s stories in the coming year.

Amy Yee orchard harvest/work party (Sept 20)

Team multch

These trees sit up above the tennis center of the same name just up the hill from MLK Jr Way South, a few blocks south of I-90, and a long stone’s throw from Bradner Gardens. This was an especially fun harvest for me, because the work party was a large group from PopCap Games–the creators of the world’s best iPad game (in my humble opinion) Plants vs. Zombies, a game in which you defend your home from silly cartoon zombies via strategic and savvy gardening. Genius! And I got to meet one of the creators of the game! Ah, life was good.

PopCap Gamers harvesting at Amy Yee

I’d heard from other orchard stewards that the PopCap Games folks were fantastic work party folks, and they proved that rumor true. They cleared blackberries and brush, mulched around trees, and then harvested apples like they were in a World’s Best Harvester’s competition. So much energy! They were a lean, mean, harvesting machine, and a joy to watch as they came up with a myriad of ways to harvest: from small group approaches with the apple catcher sticks to traditional ladder work to climbing up into the trees themselves. Gail brought them a huge, gorgeous plate of sliced fruit from other area harvests. Um, yeah, I hope that was for the story gatherer too. ;-) Delicious!

Burke-Gilman Trail orchard harvest/work party (Sept 22)

One of the big old "trophy roots" that was bothering the apple tree

The Slow Food work party was going strong by the time we got there. They were working thoughtfully, steadily, chatting, and laughing the whole time. Manifesting the spirit of their organization, I thought. They were so much fun to be with.

Barb and Jan, sister stewards

I got to meet Barb’s sister Jan, who’d come to Seattle to help out. This was hard manual labor: digging into rocky soil, digging out huge old roots, and with the Burke-Gilman traffic whizzing by their ears all the while.

Not sure I’d be able to get my sister to do the work, let alone be happy to be there.

Amazingness clearly runs in this family.

 

Dr Jose Rizal orchard harvest/work party (Sept 30)

Dr Jose Rizal orchard stewards

This was my first trip to the Dr Jose Rizal Orchard on Beacon Hill. It lives in the shadow of the beautiful old building (formerly a hospital, then the Amazon building, and now I’m not sure who’s there) that looks lovingly over downtown, like a benevolent old queen looking out across her subjects.

Stewards with a view

You hike down a steep, and sometimes slippery, hillside to get to the orchard. And it’s worth the journey. The amount of work that it’s taken to clear the hillside, and liberate the fruit trees from the jungle-like conditions, is apparent. Somebody has devoted many, many years to this still-coming-back-to-full-life orchard. After being stunned into silence by the beautiful view of downtown, my first thought was “How the heck do they get a wheelbarrow down here?”

Beautiful

Craig and company were harvesting perfect little winesap apples, with an amazing view of downtown Seattle and the happy sounds of the adjacent off-leash dog park wafting up at them. And he gave me a few to try. What a treat! I look forward to getting back and hearing Craig’s stories in depth! As it was, I couldn’t stay long because I was on my way to West Seattle…

West Seattle harvest cider pressing (Sept 30)

cider in the works

Also great to finally see a cider press in action (at Piper, they’d finished pressing before we arrived).

Betsy filled our growler for us, we bought some plum jam from Gail, and then we watched the cider pressers do their thing.

Thanks Betsy!

The cider press seems like a tool designed to foster community as much as to make cider.

Old wisdom and damn good design, in my opinion.

And the weather was warm and sunny and perfect.

Life was good in West Seattle.

Martha Washington orchard harvest/cider pressing (October 14)

Jim invited us to the harvest and cider pressing event at Martha Washington orchard a few weeks later.

Rainy harvest at Martha Washington

True Seattle fall decided to show up in full force this day, drenching us and teaching me that rain and my camera will never be the best of friends. As a gardener, though, I reveled in the rain after so many months of nothing. Yay rain!

Jim and company had thought ahead, and brought portable stoves, so we had hot cider to warm us from the chilly fall rain.

Cheers stewards!

We learned that we were on the site of an former wayward girl’s school: the old trees, school trees. The beautiful colors of the umbrellas and clothes that the kid helper/harvesters were wearing leant an air of whimsey and magic to the very wet day. The rain-fuzzy images in my camera calling to mind the ghosts of those who came before us.

Is it any wonder I like to be in orchards. Seems like magic always finds me there. Thanks for the invite Jim. Great cider!

 

Burke-Gilman Trail cider pressing (Oct 21st)

harvest dancers

Last Sunday I joined Barb and company again at Burke-Gilman–this time in the shadow of the ship cannel bridge–for their cider pressing event. The I-could-rain-any-minute sky cooperated nicely and gave mostly sun breaks to the 3+ hour event. Barb had invited some traditional dancers to bring good fortune to the harvest and make the cider taste better: I think they helped with the weather too.

Helpful hands

Amanda from Solid Ground and Burke-Gilman steward Harriet were expertly working the cider press and encouraging those who came by on the trail to take a turn. I worked the press long enough that it was clearly an upper-body workout, which meant I could skip the gym, which was nice. ;-) But seriously, it was amazing to get a chance to use the press and to watch people of all ages do so as well.

We did free cider tastings of different blends and also one-kind varieties of cider. Other stewards sorted apples into “cider” and “eating” boxes and multched around nearby trees. Barb’s son and his buddy manned the information booth and proved themselves to be fantastic fundraisers beside the donation bucket. Such a fun day. ANd I came home with yet another growler of cider, which I’m sipping right now. So. Freakin. Good.

who likes cider pressing events?

Happy fall, my friends!

You can find more photos and stories of Burke-Gilman events on the Burke-Gilman Urban Orchard Stewards Facebook page, and more photos of all these events at the Seattle Orchard Stewards blog. . If your orchard steward event wasn’t mentioned, invite me to the next one! My email is lori@collectiveself.com.

Jun13

Burke-Gilman Stewards Put Footies on Trees

We talk a lot about ways to help prevent and manage pests and diseases on fruit trees. Afterall, the fewer pests & diseases, the healthier the tree, and, as a result, the better the fruit.

In addition to encouraging and educating home owners to take care of their own trees, the Fruit Tree Stewards have done a great job making sure that trees within parks and other urban orchards are protected. One example of that is the Burke-Gilman Fruit Tree Stewards (did you know fruit trees were along the Burke-Gilman trail?) — they’ve been super active caring for the fruit trees along the trail and most recently applied a bunch of bags on the low-hanging fruit on some trees. And using some footies City Fruit is supplying, they’re in the process of finishing off the trees by adding additional footies to the fruit higher up.

Their work is turning these previously neglected trees into productive, healthy trees that produce tasty, beautiful fruit.

Interested in learning more about how to apply footies or bags to your fruit trees to help keep pests away? Check out this video from our resident fruit tree expert, Don Ricks. As you can see it’s super simple.

Apr11

Seattle Orchards: Meridian Park/Good Shepherd Center

[This exerpt is from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

Meridian Park Orchard

Meridian Park Orchard - Photo by Audrey L. Lieberworth

Meridian Park is located on the wide expanse of parkland in front of the Good Shepherd Center. Mark Wilson, the property manager for the Good Shepherd Center, states that the building, which was constructed in 1905, originally housed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Roman Catholic order of nuns that were devoted to the care, rehabilitation and education of girls and young women in crisis. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd believed that by providing the benefits of a stable and loving home, the girls could become responsible, moral and caring women. The nuns planted and maintained an orchard at the site in order to teach the girls home economics, how to cook and grow food.

This site operated until 1973 when, as a result of receiving fewer donations, the Center closed. Ashley Fent’s survey of the fruit trees in Seattle Parks documents that after its closure, community members took action to preserve the site as a historic landmark and the parkland was acquired by SPD in 1976. Over sixty apple, pear and plum trees remain at both Meridian Park and the Good Shepherd Center, which is now used to house various local business practices. The SPD and Historic Seattle take care of these fruit trees.

Editor’s Note: In addition, Don Ricks, resident City Fruit blogger and involved in the Seattle Tree Fruit Society, looks after these trees as well. He often organizes volunteers for pruning, foot sock application, and harvesting. The Good Shepherd Center is also home to Seattle Tilth.

Mar06

Seattle Orchards: Burke-Gilman Trail

[This exerpt is from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

An old apple tree located along the Trail and under the Interstate 5 overpass; photographed by Audrey Lieberworth

There are a lot of fruit trees scattered along the Burke-Gilman Trail that winds its way through Seattle. The fruit trees that are of particular note are the six located right by Gas Works Park. Not much is known about when these fruit trees were planted, but Barb Burrill, one of the community members involved in taking care of these trees, states that there are numerous fruit trees on the streets and in the backyards of residents in Wallingford, the surrounding neighborhood, that were planted long before the current residents bought the property. As such, Burrill speculates that the history of these fruits trees is most likely connected to the development of the Burke-Gilman Trail and the surrounding neighborhood.

What is now known as the Burke-Gilman Trail was not initially created as a path for pedestrians and bicyclists. As related in the Burke-Gilman Trail History, in 1885, the early settlers Judge Thomas Burke, Daniel Gilman and ten other investors wanted to build a railroad that started in Seattle and connected to the Canadian Transcontinental line. They hoped that this railroad would help turn Seattle into an economic, trade and transportation center, and connect it to the broader network of trade. After the development of the railroad, it was used heavily to support logging between 1913-1963, but was finally abandoned in 1971 (“Burke-Gilman Trail History”). At this point, members of the community recognized the value of the path for recreational and non-motorized transportation. The City of Seattle, the University of Washington, and King County worked together in order to transform it into a recreational route, and it was dedicated on August 19th, 1978 (“Burke-Gilman Trail History”). The utilization of this path as a railroad track served as a catalyst for development of communities along the route and it is very likely that the communities that grew around this path planted the fruit trees.

Map of Burke-Gilman Trail near Gas Works (click for larger map)

The community members taking care of the fruit trees are not sure who owns which trees along the Burke-Gilman Trail because, as Burrill explains, the land along the path forms a patchwork of ownership between Seattle City Light, SPD and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). However, with regards to the six apple trees in this specific section of the Trail, these different departments have granted permission to SPD and community members to take care of them. These apple trees have received a lot of pruning, predominantly at the oldest tree under Interstate 5. Community members have also been treating the apple trees for pest management because they have coddling moths and apple maggots. As a preventative measure, they have placed nylon socks over the individual pieces of fruit to protect them from exposure to more pests. Orchard stewards will likely begin taking care of more fruit trees along the Trail in the next year.

 

Feb22

Seattle Orchards: Piper’s Orchard

[This exerpt is from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

The historic orchard at Piper’s Canyon, photographed by Audrey Lieberworth

Piper’s Orchard at Carkeek Park is one of the oldest orchards with an abundance of fruit trees in Seattle. As the “Piper Oral History Meeting” of February 20, 1984 recounts, the first owner of this land was the Piper family, which included Bavarian-born Andrew W. Piper, his wife Wilhelmina and their children. The family originally settled in what is present-day downtown Seattle, where Piper ran a konditorei, or a confectioner’s shop that sold baked goods and candy. However, his shop was burned down in Seattle’s Great Fire in 1889, and soon after, the family moved up north to an 80-acre plot of land by Piper’s Canyon, located in what is now Carkeek Park. The family planted an orchard on the land with many pioneer varieties, such as the German Bietigheimer, and a large vegetable garden. The “Piper Oral History Meeting” notes state that while Minna and her son Paul were the main caretakers of the garden, her husband often used the fruit harvested from the orchards to make pies. Minna and Paul took the fruits and vegetables from the orchard and their vegetable garden into town to sell. However, Piper died in 1904, and the City forced his family off the property a little while later to create Carkeek Park.

Carkeek Park was one of the first parks established in Seattle. Brandt Morgan, author of Enjoying Seattle Parks, a description and history of the parks that had been established by the time of publication in 1979, relates that Morgan J. Carkeek and his wife, Emily, settled in Seattle in 1875. Carkeek was a stonemason from England and one of Seattle’s best early artisan contractors. The park originally dedicated in Carkeek’s name was located on Pontiac Bay on Lake Washington 1918; however in 1926, the land was turned over to the federal government in order to operate a Naval Air Station. Consequently, Morgan states that Carkeek donated $25,000 in 1928 for a new park to be located at Piper’s Canyon and the City put up $100,000, to create the park. Carkeek Park opened for operation one year after this plan was finalized.

Since its creation, Carkeek Park has been utilized for a variety of different purposes. Some of the more notable uses were a sawmill company that was operated on the parkland in the 1920s, which usurped all of the timber in the original forested land, and the Whiz Company, whose fish traps were used to collect salmon until 1932. The park was then used to create work for those who were hard-hit by the Depression to make camp buildings and forest trails. Later, the park was used for a loop road, shelter, and picnic area in 1953, and a model airplane field in 1959. The park then slowly evolved into a place for community gathering, in part because of the discovery of the orchard after many decades of abandonment in the 1980s.

Map of Carkeek Park. Piper’s Orchard resides within the park.

In 1981, Daphne Lewis, a landscape architect, stumbled upon Piper’s Orchard, covered by layers of blackberry bushes. Lewis discovered the orchard in the process of surveying Carkeek Park in order to create a master plan for park restoration. Bob Baines, a SPD employee who was involved in the original restoration project, recalls that the restoration team consisted of volunteers, descendants of the Piper family and members of the newly formed Piper’s Orchard chapter of the Western Cascade Tree Fruit Association. The Piper’s Orchard chapter adopted and began to take care of the orchard. As part of this restoration effort, more pioneer varieties of apples were planted, which included Wagener, Red Astrachan, King, and Wolf River. The first wave of orchard restoration brought together the knowledge, expertise and resources of different members of the community.

Interest in taking care of this orchard has wavered over the years. However, a new era of the Piper’s Orchard restoration project began about five years ago, asserts Brian Gay, a naturalist for SPD at Carkeek Park. At this time, SPD and orchard volunteers put together a sustainability plan complete with recommendations for future care of the orchard. Afterwards, there was renewed interest in the educational opportunities that the orchard offered.

Today the orchard includes 82 fruit trees, 30 of which were originally planted by the Piper family. There is an abundance of apple, cherry, chestnut, filbert, pear, walnut and hawthorn trees all planted on the park hillside. Don Ricks, president of Friends of Piper’s Orchard, mentions that many of the fruit trees suffer from apple scab, a fungal disease, but they are putting up pheromone destructors and nylon socks in an attempt to counteract the incidence of pests.

While SPD owns the land, the non-profit organization Friends of Piper’s Orchard tends and maintains the orchard.

Feb08

Seattle Orchards: Dr. Jose Rizal Park

[This exerpt is from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

One of three different plots of orchards at Dr. Jose Rizal Park, overlooking Interstate 5 and downtown Seattle -- photographed by Audrey Lieberworth

Dr. Jose Rizal Park, located on Beacon Hill, was created as a byproduct of the early settlers’ efforts to transform Seattle into a city. Settlers recognized the importance of the land just west of Beacon Hill as a shipping and industrial center because it was located right at the point where the mouth of the Duwamish River meets Elliot Bay. However, the transportation of people and goods inland and south was difficult because a glacier that passed through Seattle 15,000 years ago carved out a steep saddle between what is now First Hill and Beacon Hill. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, settlers began to level out the saddle, which made transportation far easier and also allowed a flourishing industrial center to appear west of Beacon Hill. In the 1960s, land was designated for a park meadow on the side of Beacon Hill as part of construction for the freeway that passes right through the area. In 1971, SPD acquired the meadow to create for a park.

In 1974, this park was dedicated to the memory of the Filipino patriot Dr. Jose Rizal. The park is located in an area that drew a significant Filipino immigrant population starting in 1900, after the Spanish-American War made the Philippines an American Protectorate. Dr. Jose Rizal was a Filipino patriot known for making “lasting contributions to medicine, psychology, literature, anthropology, art, drama, philosophy, botany, zoology, engineering, agriculture, and – above all – political and social reform”. This dedication reaffirmed the significance of the Filipino population in the Seattle community. Today, the park is still a popular gathering place for the Filipino community and they have also been a major source of support for the orchard rejuvenation project.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Click for larger map

It is unclear when this orchard was planted. However, Craig Thompson, a community member involved in the restoration of the orchard, believes that it dates back to the 1950s. Thompson states that there are three orchards at the park that are taken care of by community members and SPD. The largest, to the east, just downhill from the park’s scenic overlook, has twenty crab and true apple trees. One of the crab apples produces fruit, and orchard stewards and volunteers successfully grafted scions of the Victory variety of apple onto other crab stock. This orchard – the main orchard – is sided by a restored natural forest area to the south, a stand of Leyland cypresses to the west, and to the north a stand of European white birches. A second, smaller orchard is located further downhill and across a service road, and has five Winesaps, a fruiting crab apple, and another true apple variety. Further north, a third stand of three true apples sits inside the park, beside the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail, a pedestrian and non-motorized transport path. Just south of the park are legacy nut and fruit trees planted by early Seattle settler, Katie Black. The nearby Katie Black Garden, which was laid out in 1914, commemorates her.

Jan23

Seattle Orchards: Martha Washington Park

[This exerpt is the first in a series about Seattle orchards from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

The origins of the surviving historic orchards are connected to the rich narratives of the early settlement and development of Seattle communities since the late 1800s. Many of these historic orchards contain a diversity of tall heirloom varieties, instead of the semi-dwarf or dwarf, specialized and standardized varieties. Some of the orchards that were planted recently have heirloom varieties, but they are mostly semi-dwarf or dwarf species. The eleven orchards are only a few of the vast network of fruit trees that spreads across Seattle.

Apple and cherry trees at Martha Washington Park; photographed by Audrey Lieberworth

Like many of the other orchards in Seattle, the orchard at Martha Washington Park has a rich history. The pioneer E.A. Clark, Seattle’s third schoolteacher was the first settler to own the land, but he soon sold it to settler David Graham in 1855, who then sold it to his brother Walter Graham ten years later. Graham was a horticulturist and planted the orchard found here.

The location of Graham’s land was close to the cable and trolley cars that traveled to the city center, which enabled easy transport of their harvested produce into town to sell. Graham ended up selling his land to Asa Mercer, who is known for sending two groups of maidens north to Seattle to help meet the demand for single settlers had for wives. Graham met Mercer because he married one of Mercer’s young women. However, Mercer ended up selling the piece of property to John Wilson soon after as payment for a loan because he went bankrupt after sending his second shipment of brides.

In 1889, Wilson sold the piece of land to Everett Smith, an attorney who was the clerk for Judge Thomas Burke. Smith later sold the property to the Seattle School District in 1920, which turned the property into the Martha Washington School for Girls in order to provide resident supervision for delinquent girls. In 1957, the state of Washington took over care of the site, and in 1972 the City of Seattle acquired the land.

Map of Martha Washington Park locationToday there are nine cherry and apple trees left on the property, cared for by SPD and community members. Jim Kramer, one of the community orchard stewardssays that many of the trees do not have harvestable fruit because they have apple maggot flies, which they are trying to counteract by putting nylon socks on the individual pieces of fruit.Kramer states that since these trees are very old, the fruit is 30 feet up in the air and not very accessible. One of the main tasks to accomplish in the next three or four years is to do major pruning in order to encourage fruit production lower on the tree. Kramer hopes that they will also be able to plant more fruit trees at the site in the future.

Nov12

Fruit Tree Stewards Off & Running

We just got these photos from one of our new fruit tree stewards as part of a project we’re running in partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Seattle Parks & Recreation. I’ve written about it before and you can learn more here.

These particular photos are from the fruit trees along the Burke-Gilman trail — have you seen them? This group, led by Barb Burrill (she also provided the photos), is taking care of them — they even got some fairly worm-free apples!

So far the project is going great. A big thanks to Gail Savina, Jana Dilley, and Becca Fong for making this project happen.

Check out the photos below.

A big apple tree along the Burke-Gilman.

The volunteer work party. Thanks for all your hard work! The sign looks great.

One of our Fruit Tree Steward’s son lending a hand.