Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Apr10

City Fruit Launches Save Seattle’s Apples Campaign!

 

SSA 2015 logo_blackSpring is springing, and along with the warmer weather and new buds on the trees, we are excited to announce the launch of our first ever Spring 2015 Save Seattle’s Apples Campaign! In partnership with Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Recology, Greater Good Granola, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, this three month pest prevention campaign will build awareness about Seattle’s urban canopy, the proper care and management of apple trees, and provide opportunities for the public to protect apples. Additionally, the project aims to reduce waste that unnecessarily ends up in the compost bin.

Apple maggot David Smith

The work of an apple maggot. Pest damage makes fruit inedible and unsuitable for donation to food banks and other organizations.

During 2014, City Fruit harvested nearly 28,000 pounds of fresh, edible fruit and donated the majority to Seattle’s emergency food system. During the same harvest season, we composted over 12,000 pounds of rotten fruit that had fallen to the ground due to insects, poor tree management, or neglect. Through education, outreach, and direct hands-on assistance to tree owners in protecting their fruit, we hope to cut the number of pounds of fruit we compost in half in 2015, adding 6,000 pounds of fruit to the emergency food system and feeding an additional estimated 20,000 families.

“Apple trees are a vibrant part of Seattle’s history, and a valuable resource. Coming together as an entire community in the care of our apple trees could have an enormous impact on our local food system and really make a difference in the lives of the food insecure in our community”, said Morgan Larsen, City Fruit’s board president.

Bagging at Amy Yee May 31 -2

Volunteers cover apples with pest barriers at Amy Yee Orchard

“Food waste makes up one third of Seattle’s residential garbage”, said Veronica Fincher, Waste Prevention Program Manager at Seattle Public Utilities. “We’re excited to be part of a project that helps prevent food from becoming waste–especially since food is no longer allowed in the garbage”.

From April through June, City Fruit will provide free pest barriers to Seattle tree owners, and will host a series of outreach events in five Seattle neighborhoods focused on covering trees to prevent pests in orchards as well as on private property.

Help us cut the number of pounds of fruit we compost by half in 2015. Join us to save Seattle’s Apples!

The Save Seattle’s Apples Kick-Off event will take place on Sunday, April 19th at Linden Orchard (N 67th St.) from 12 – 3 PM, and will feature opportunities for community members to participate in covering apple trees, win prizes, and pledge to reduce waste!

Join us for a Bag ‘n’ Brew event at Schilling Cider House in Fremont to pick up your pest barriers, sample local cider, and enter to win raffle prizes!

Volunteer at one of our pest prevention events, protect your tree and pick up your free pest barriers, or become an Apple Champion and run the Rock ‘n’ Roll race with us!

Mar05

A non-fiction fable of my first time fig affair

As I think about our last Prune-a-thon event, which is happening this Saturday and will focus on pruning fig trees, I can’t help but reminisce about my first time harvesting figs last summer. The reason I remember it so well is because it was also my first time ever eating a fresh fig.

I was picking figs in Capitol Hill on a private residence. It was July 13th-which I was told at the time was WAAAAY earlier than when figs normally ripen in these parts. I had almost zero concept of how largefigs or abundant a normal fig tree is but this tree felt large. I’d say the tree was about 50 feet tall. Anyway, it was DOWNPOURING that day and my rain jacket was soaked through in about 2 minutes. The thing about fig leaves is that they are super strong and can hold a lot of water on them so in addition to the rain falling, every time I bumped a leaf, it would essentially drop a water balloons’ amount of water on my head. As I’ve learned now, this is not an ideal time to pick figs as the skin can be sensitive, so the first one I picked, I ripped off much of the outer skin and because I was going to sell these, I figured this was a great reason to try my first ever fresh fig. I ate the full thing (a majority of people just open up the fig and eat the insides but I didn’t know better) and my taste buds danced for joy. I could not believe how delicious figs were! I ate a couple more right away and then tried to restrain myself as I was going to sell them to the Tom Douglas Restaurants, but I couldn’t help myself! Whenever I “accidentally” tore off a bit too much skin and they didn’t look beautiful, I decided the right thing to do would be to not let it go to waste and I’d just eat it whole on the spot. I ate at least 12 figs or so and was SOOOO very full. I was returned to my seven year old self with that mixed feeling of discomfort and pure pleasure one gets from eating half a bowl of cookie dough while waiting for the oven to heat (ok, I still do that.) It was great!

I then delivered almost 5 crates full (about 250 figs) to the Tom Douglas restaurant Serious Pie and Biscuit. I was very nervous as this was my first sale and I didn’t know how acceptable these would be to such a prestigious restaurant. I brought them in and passively asked the lead chef if what I had brought in was ok. To my great surprise, she was ecstatic! She called the cooks over to take a look and people even started taking selfies with the apparently gigantic figs that I had just brought in. I felt like a million bucks leaving that day and couldn’t wait for my next time picking figs! (Let the record show that I gained some self-control after that first overindulgence, but picking figs is still one of the highlights of my harvesting days.)

 

Feb17

Hip Hop Group Dead Prez and Eating Healthy

"Soul Food Junkies" New York Premiere With Performance By Dead Prez

In honor of President’s Day, all of us at City Fruit wanted to write about an American president who had a known affinity for eating or growing fruit. While it is true that some presidents are forever linked with a certain type of fruit (as the rest of my coworkers have wonderfully written about) my mind immediately went to a song I first heard when I was 13 written by a hip hop duo from NYC, named Dead Prez. In 2000, they released their first album “Let’s Get Free”, and somewhere in the middle of the album was a tracked called “Be Healthy”.

At the time, I was extremely confused by this song. I didn’t understand why a group whose first nine songs were all about capitalism and power structures in America would then throw in a song about eating healthy. I mean, read this second verse:

Lentil soup is mental fruit

and ginger root is good for the yout’

Fresh veg-e-table with the mayatl stew

sweet yam fries with the green calalloo

careful how you season and prepare your foods

cause you don’t wanna lose vitamins and miner-ules

and that’s the jewel

life brings life, it’s valuable, so I eat what comes

from the ground, it’s natural

let your food be your medicine (uh huh)

no Excederin (uh uh)

strictly herb, generate in the sun, cause I got melanin

and drink water, eight glasses a day

cause that’s what they say”

While my mom was already very committed to making us kids eat healthy, a simple song like this by a group I thought to be extremely cool made me think more about this topic than my 7th grade health teacher ever could (on another note, the only reason I had heard of cholesterol when this same teacher asked about it was because of the Tribe Called Quest song, “Ham ‘n Eggs”). My mom even made green callalloo out of Amaranth after I asked her what it was.

While I haven’t listened to Dead Prez in quite some time, I have kept tabs on their lead singer, Khnum Ibomu, as he has remained quite active in advocating for youth to live and eat healthy. In 2013, he wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called, “7 Ways to Eat Good on a ‘Hood’ Budget”. He was interviewed about it on NPR and has been touring the country under the banner “Healthy is the New Gangsta”. While the experiences Khnum talks about do not match my upbringing, I love reading his pieces and hearing his thoughts as he was (and still is) cool, and thousands of former 13 year olds heard his songs and saw his messages and, at least, took a minute to contemplate what he was talking about. We need more voices, and more diverse voices, using their platform to spread a positive message like “..true wealth comes from good health and wise ways..”

Happy President’s Day Everybody.

By City Fruit Harvest Coordinator Luke Jesperson

We’d love to get you engaged in the City Fruit family! Check out upcoming events, become an ambassador to manage the fruit trees in your neighborhood and get your community involved, sign up to volunteer, or become a member to support City Fruit monthly or annually.

 

Feb14

George Washington and the Cherry Tree

I chose to write my President’s Day blog about our nation’s first president and the ubiquitous cherry tree myth. I studied U.S. history in college so I love a good presidential anecdote, but I also grew up with a cherry tree in my backyard, lending a certain significance to this particular story for me.

Written by Mason Weems in an 1806 biography of George Washington, the iconic story of young George chopping down his father’s cherry tree with a hatchet and admitting it later to his father (“I can’t tell a lie, pa”), served as a moral lesson for generations of American children on the virtue of honesty. Included in the famous McGuffey Reader (a widely used textbook in American schools throughout the 19th century), Americans celebrated Washington’s birthday on February 22nd by eating impressive amounts of cherries (dried or candied) and presenting their children with toy hatchets. Weems’ story lost its credibility by the early 20th century when historians realized there was nothing more than anecdotal evidence to support the story. Although most agree that the events in this story likely never happened, there is no way to know for sure.

GardenBingsq

Bing Cherries

As a child, Washington was not my favorite president. I loved the cherry tree in my backyard—it was a favorite refuge of mine where I spent many afternoons making up songs (mostly about my dog), and I did not think kindly of cherry tree killers, presidential or otherwise.

So I was pleased to learn that later in his life, Washington planted cherry trees at his Mount Vernon, Virginia estate along with apple, pear, peach, and apricot trees. Cherries had originally been introduced to America from Britain in the early 17th century, and the French and Spanish followed suit, importing different cultivars (like the Yellow Spanish and Early Richmond cultivars), to different regions of the colonies. By the mid 1800s, the cultivation of cherries had spread to Oregon, and the now popular Bing cherry is named after an orchard worker who discovered the cultivar on an Oregon farm in 1875.

To my surprise, when I was reading about Washington and cherries, I stumbled upon another less known presidential cherry-related conundrum: the mysterious death of Zachary Taylor in July of 1850! As the story goes, after taking a walk on the 4th of July, Taylor returned home, drank a glass of milk, and ate a huge bowl of cherries (no one knows why—it was a whole five months too late to be celebrating Washington’s birthday after all). Taylor became sick later that day and died five days later—the exact cause of death still unknown…but what a way to go!

Although I don’t know which cultivar my family’s sour cherry tree was (it produced very small fruit which was mostly eaten by birds), Bing cherry trees are grown in Seattle (City Fruit harvested 30 pounds last year!). However, Bing cherries are generally more suitable to the climate of eastern Washington–in Seattle, try growing the sweet cherry variety called Lapin, which tends to do better in western Washington than other varieties. For more resources on growing fruit trees and cherry trees in particular, check out the Growing Fruit and Recommended Reading pages under the Resources section of the City Fruit website!

Somewhere along the way as I wrote this blog about the cherry-related mysteries of American presidential history, I came across the 1931 song by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson sung by Rudy Vallee titled, “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, the lyrics of which seemed fitting:

Life is just a bowl of cherries,

Don’t take it serious,  

It’s too mysterious…

Happy President’s Day!

 

We’d love to get you engaged in the City Fruit family! Check out upcoming events, become an ambassador to manage the fruit trees in your neighborhood and get your community involved, sign up to volunteer, or become a member to support City Fruit monthly or annually.

Feb13

Favorite Fruit of the Presidents – Thomas Jefferson

We begin our President’s Day series of blogs by City Fruit staff members with a focus on Thomas Jefferson and his favorite fruit.

Heath Cling Peach

Heath Cling Peach

My husband is a long-time admirer of Thomas Jefferson so we have had plenty of conversations about our third president and his personally designed Virginia home, Monticello. When investigating the Monticello orchards, I first focused only on Jefferson’s favorite apples, the Esopus Spitzenburg and Newtown Pippin. Thought maybe I’d plant those varieties of apples in honor of the man and his orchard … haven’t yet.

But this week I dug deeper into Mr. Jefferson’s fruit fancies and smiled when I learned that he and I share the same favorite fruit: the lovely, delicate, versatile, scrumptious, elusive but not impossible to grow in our climate peach.

Peaches, native to China, were introduced to North America in the 16th century by Spanish or French settlers. At Jefferson’s South Orchard at Monticello he planted over 1,000 fruit trees, including 38 new peach cultivars. By 1811 the orchard had 160 peach trees, by far the most of any fruit growing there. Peach cultivars that Jefferson planted in the Monticello orchard included American originals such as Heath Cling, Oldmixon Cling and Free, Morris’ Red Rareripe, and Indian Blood Cling.

Indian Blood Cling Peach

Indian Blood Cling Peach

Jefferson’s abundant peaches were made into a cider-like beverage called mobby, which was often distilled into brandy. Or they were juiced and mixed with tea, or peeled and pickled, or sprinkled with sugar and dried in the sun.

Not surprisingly, Thomas Jefferson also created the first American recipe for ice cream, and had it served often at his homes throughout his lifetime.

So for President’s Day, enjoy a very President Jeffersonian fruit dessert: Mr. Jefferson’s Ice Cream Sundae with Brandied Peaches and Praline Crumbles.

Even Thomas Jefferson had trouble getting some fruit cultivars to grow at Monticello. If you want to be successful growing fruit in the Seattle climate, check out the “Best Fruits for Western Washington Yards” Quick Reference Guide on the City Fruit website, under Resources.

Barb Burrill is the Director of Orchard Stewardship at City Fruit

Feb12

City People’s Sale and the Many Cultivars of Blueberries

City People’s bare root tree sale is beginning now and going through March (and with part of the proceeds being given to City Fruit!) So I decided to head over to CP after hearing tales of endless varieties of figs, kiwis, apples, and more. I was especially intrigued by the large selection of blueberry varieties available as I have the unfortunate combination of very little knowledge but plenty of exposure to blueberries (my grandparents had blueberry bushes on their farm and I can still hear my grandma saying, “blueberries are brainberries,” every time I plop one into my mouth). Alison Green from City People’s was kind enough to talk to me a bit about the process of fruit tree purchasing and specifically about all the different varieties of blueberries.City People's Blueberries

The blueberry bushes at City People’s are three years old and have come from various vendors throughout the Northwest, from Vashon Island and Mount Vernon all the way down to Northern California, with a majority of the nurseries located in Southwest Oregon.  Every year nurseries develop new varieties to fit most any gardener’s desires. There are highbush cultivar (at least 6 feet tall called Aurora and Duke) all the way down to 1 foot (Chandler). Some ripen in the summer (Bluecrop and Reka) and some ripen in the fall (Polaris). There’s even one type that grows PINK BLUEBERRIES (Pink Lemonade)! There are many other considerations like color of flowers and fall foliage, sun exposure, soil type, foliage density, water needs, etc. Alison did emphasize that for pollination purposes, it is very important to buy at least two different varieties of blueberries.

Alison also explained to me that blueberries are one of the most popular fruits they sell because, as she described it, they have “tri-seasonal” appeal, meaning that a majority of the year they provide an aesthetic that landscapers appreciate (white or yellow blooms in the spring, green foliage in the summer, and vibrant yellows and oranges in the fall) in addition to providing delicious fruit.

Swansons BlueberriesMy time wandering City People’s made me very excited to purchase new trees for my sister’s farm on Whidbey Island. I’ll certainly have grandma’s words in my ears as I do-her number one daily suggestion for us grandkids when we visited the farm was to “go outside and get dirty!”

Feb09

Fruit-Filled Recipe: Walnut Date Torte

walnut date torteWalnut Date Torte

 

Active time: 30 min

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr

Servings: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (1/2 pound), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups walnuts (5 ounces), toasted and cooled
3/4 cups sugar, divided
2/3 cups matzo meal or equivalent amount of country-style bread
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature for 30 minutes

Accompaniment: unsweetened whipped cream
Garnish: powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously grease a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan with softened butter or vegetable oil and dust with some matzo meal, knocking out excess.

Pour hot water over dates in a large bowl and let stand 15 minutes to soften.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until chopped, then add 1/4 cup sugar and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add matzo meal (2/3 cup), zest, cardamom, and salt and pulse until combined.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a slow stream, beating until whites hold stiff glossy peaks.

Whisk yolks into date mixture. Fold one third of yolk mixture into whites, then fold in remaining yolk mixture gently but thoroughly. Fold all of nut mixture into batter.

Spoon batter into cake pan and bake until golden and springy to the touch and cake just begins to pull away from side of pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Cook’s note: Cake can be made 2 days ahead and kept, in a sealed bag or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

We’d love to get you engaged in the City Fruit family! Check out upcoming events, become an ambassador to manage the fruit trees in your neighborhood and get your community involved, sign up to volunteer, or become a member to support City Fruit monthly or annually.

This recipe contributed by Hazel Singer, vice president of City Fruit’s Board of Directors

Jan15

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2015 here at City Fruit, we’d like to share a few of our New Year’s resolutions. You won’t find any related to getting more exercise or reading more non-fiction literature (though those are perfectly adequate resolutions). We fruitheads are all about the produce!

Without further ado…

“I resolve to remember my public health roots and invest energy in the larger system and policy changes necessary to ensure access to healthy food for all.”  Kate Morrison

“I resolve to pick my plums before the neighbor gets them, and to make a boysenberry pie from my plants instead of just snacking on them.” — Hazel Singer, CF board member

“I resolve to learn more about the varieties and histories of the fruit that grows in Seattle. Oh, and learn to do the juggling trick where you take a bit out of apples while you juggle them.” — Luke Jesperson

“I resolve to do ten successful fruit tree grafts this year. When eating a fresh apple, I resolve to eat everything but the stem, just as I have since I was a kid. I resolve to try two new pie crust recipes and venture beyond my Betty Crocker basic recipe.” — Barb Burrill

“I resolve to open bananas from the bottom (the right way, supposedly) and to eat kiwis with the skin on.” — Natalie Place

“I resolve to perfect the art of blackberry pie making and to learn how to make lemon meringue pie using the lemons from my family’s Meyer lemon tree!” — Elan Ebeling

“I resolve to personally harvest all of the fruit from the neglected Asian pear tree at the end of my street. No perfectly good fruit will go to waste!” — Brian Mickelson

We hope to accomplish a lot this year, and with your help, we can!

Dec11

Fruit-Filled Recipe: Two Apple Shrub Recipes

This recipe shows a cold process, but some shrubs are cooked (see this recipe from Amy Pennington for a cooked Concord Grape and Lavender Shrub on our site) and some undergo additional fermentation. Again, the field for experimentation is wide! For more ideas, see Slow Food’s Ark of Taste pinterest page, or consider checking out this new cookbook all about shrubs: Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times.

concord-lavender-shrub

Simple Apple Shrub

Recipe by Leslie Seaton of Slow Food Seattle

Yield ~14 ounces

2 cups peeled, cored apples (choose a well-balanced sweet/tart, firm, flavorful variety like Honeycrisp)

1 ½ cup sugar (regular white or raw unbleached both work)

1 ¾ cup raw apple cider vinegar

Optional: spice/spices (some to consider: 1 tsp allspice berries, 2 sticks cinnamon, 3 star anise, or 5 cloves)

 

Shred or finely matchstick the apples. Layer into glass jar with the sugar (start with a layer of apples). Place lid on jar and shake well to distribute the sugar throughout the apple. (Some sugar will collect on bottom of jar, this is okay.) Leave out jar (with lid on) for 24 hours, shaking occasionally. The apples should have begun to release some liquid to combine with the sugar. Add the vinegar, spices if using, replace lid, shake vigorously again to combine all the ingredients. Place jar in cool area or in refrigerator for 3-7 days, shaking daily. Taste and when flavors are well combined, strain liquids from solids through a fine sieve, squeezing the pulp well to remove as much liquid as possible. Store in refrigerator.

 

Apple Shrub Punch

Recipe by Courtney Matzke of Swig Well

2 lemons

2 oranges

6oz sugar

8oz Apple shrub

1 750ml bottle of aged rum

1 bottle of sparkling rose

1 persimmon thinly sliced

 

Peel the lemons and the oranges avoiding as much pith as possible. Combine with the sugar in a bowl and muddle the peels into the sugar. Let the mixture sit for at least 1 hour. Add the rum and apple shrub and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a punch bowl. Top with the sparkling rose. Slice persimmon very thin with a mandolin or sharp knife and float in the punch bowl.

Leslie Seaton serves on Slow Food Seattle’s board of directors.

Nov20

Getting Started with Mason Bees

mason-bee-house-1In just two hours of your time each year, you can significantly increase the amount of fruit your trees produce. And you’ll have fun doing it. Just add gentle-natured mason bees for amazing pollination. This native bee out-pollinates her honey bee cousin by about 100:1, due to her messy pollen gathering techniques. She is a friendly garden companion that doesn’t mind people observing her activities. While there no honey produced, you’ll get healthy spring fruit and nut yields.

Mason bees are alive in spring when your fruit trees are in bloom. After the females have gathered pollen and laid their eggs for 4-6 weeks, they expire early June. While they’re alive, they use holes in your yard to nest and lay cocoons. These are your bees for next season!

In fall you “harvest” the cocoons from the holes where they nested earlier. The bee larva have grown into bees encased in cocoons and will safely overwinter in your refrigerator. This allows you to be in control of when you want to pollinate your yard. Do you need your cherry tree pollinated? Pull some bees out of hibernation in late March. Pollinate your apple tree? You’re removing them in April. It’s easy!

For the holidays, Crown Bees is offering a ten percent discount on Bee Starter Kits to City Fruit members! Email info@cityfruit.org for the discount code.

This guest post is made possible by Crown Bees, a local business dedicated to keeping food on the table and in our stores with mason bee pollination. Bees pollinate 1/3 of our food supply, which relies primarily on the troubled honey bee. The company promotes raising mason bees and educating backyard gardeners and farmers nationwide about this gentle-natured, efficient pollinator. It’s an easy way we can all help protect our food supply, one garden at a time.

 

Oct31

Capitol Cider

To this point, we’ve written all about the wonderful craft cideries pouring next week at City Fruit’s 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser. Hailing from all over Washington State—the Olympic Peninsula, Yakima, Wenatchee, Olympia, even here in Seattle—these cideries are among the best of the best in the Pacific Northwest. We recommend taking a trip to each and every one the first chance you get.

You might be thinking, “But I’m just a novice cider drinker and my time is limited, isn’t there a place in Seattle I can go to try all these ciders?” That would be something, wouldn’t it? A place that regularly features every cidery coming to the Hard Cider Taste, and maybe some other regional artisanal, Spanish, English, and French blends? And why limit it to cider? How about cider cocktails and cider mimosas and an extensive collection of Calvados and other apple-based liqueurs? Or a delicious gluten-free brunch, dinner, and late-night menu with dishes that pair perfectly with all types of cider? Maybe toss in some live music for good measure?

Today is your lucky day, dear reader, for such a place exists. Welcome to Capitol Cider, your one-stop shop for literally everything having to do with cider. With a full bar featuring 20 rotating taps of specialty ciders from all over the world and an extensive bottle shop with over 120 different kinds of cider, Capitol Cider boasts the largest craft cider collection in the city.

In every sense, Capitol Cider is a public house, a place to meet and exchange ideas and learn everything you’d ever want to know about cider. And if you own a cidery and want to expand in Seattle, Capitol is the place to go. “We just hosted Portland Cider Company’s Seattle launch,” says Caitlin Braam, who handles marketing for Capitol. “We host a lot of meet the maker events. Other folks seek us out when they’re coming to market.”

Many of the events Capitol organizes are built not just around cider, but food, too. “The chef is amazing,” Braam says. “He hosts dinners that pair gluten-free fare with all sorts of different ciders.” Indeed, Chef Erik Jackson has some serious chops, having worked at Tom Douglas’s, Serious Pie, Dahlia Lounge, Cuoco, Spur Gastropub, and The Coterie Room, to name a few. He is currently developing a series, “Apples Get Paired,” set to launch in March that will feature bi-monthly collaborations with up-and-coming Seattle chefs to create multi-course, cider-paired meals. Cider makers will be on hand to talk with the chefs about each pairing. It’s the perfect concept for Capitol, bringing the food and cider worlds together in what promises to be an exceptionally delicious series.

It’s only natural that Capitol Cider is sponsoring City Fruit’s Hard Cider Taste. They take their position of cider stewards as seriously as City Fruit takes the stewardship of Seattle’s shared urban orchard and delivering her generous bounty to our friends in need. We cannot thank Capitol enough for their support, and look forward to an amazing night next week on November 6th.

Capitol Cider logo

Oct30

Seattle Cider Co.

At a little over a year old, Seattle Cider Co is just a babe compared to some of the more established Washington craft cideries. But despite being the newcomer, it’s the first cidery to open in the City of Seattle since Prohibition, which thankfully ended long ago.

Joel Vandenbrink got the idea for starting Seattle Cider a few years ago when he discovered he had Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. He had already founded Two Beers Brewery in 2007, but now could not consume as much beer, which is high in gluten and exacerbates Crohn’s symptoms. Drinking gluten-free cider offered a welcome reprieve.

But Joel found that buying all that craft cider was getting expensive, since much of it was only offered in wine-sized bottles. Thus, he began to view cider through the lens of beer. Why not offer cider in a smaller, more accessible can instead? He saw cider as a natural bridge between beer and wine and an opportunity to appeal to a wide demographic. Along with partners Brent Miles (who is gluten-free) and Eric Willard (whose wife is gluten-free), Joel launched Seattle Cider in August 2013.

The cidery produces two year-round ciders, the Dry and the Semi-Sweet, made from a blend of Yakima Valley dessert apples. The Dry has zero residual sugar and is one of the driest on the market, making it an appealing choice for beer drinkers. The Semi-Sweet, their top seller, is light and crisp with a touch of sweetness. Both are offered in 16-ounce cans sold in 4-packs, which make them more accessible to folks eager to dive into cider. The way Joel & Co. see it, if someone wants to try cider out, they’d rather buy a 4-pack than spend $16 on a large bottle they might not like. Even if they don’t like the 4-pack, they can share the rest with friends.

The group’s focus on branding and marketing has helped Seattle Cider grow exponentially in the last year. The website is clean and accessible, and features an educational graphic on the cider making process. Their reach is growing, with current distribution in WA, OR, AK, CA, IL, and TX, and expansion planned for WI and MN next year. Best of all, you can enjoy all of Seattle Cider’s offerings right here in the Emerald City at The Woods, a sizable tasting room in SoDo shared with Two Beers Brewing. It’s here you’ll find Seattle Cider’s unique seasonal blends like PNW Berry (a berry cider aged in red wine barrels) in addition to their regular offerings.

Of course, you can also discover Seattle Cider at City Fruit’s 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser November 6th. They’ll be featuring the Dry and the Semi-Sweet, as well as the Pumpkin Spice seasonal and, we hope, a few limited editions like Three Pepper, which is fermented with poblano, habanero, and jalapeno peppers. Grab your Cider Taste tickets now!

Seattle Cider logo

Oct28

Wrapping Up the Harvest Season with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound

Two weekends ago, we closed out our largest harvest season to date with a Harvest Celebration and Cider Press event at Amy Yee Tennis Center with City Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, City Fruit staff and board, and over 30 hardworking volunteers — many from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound. To top off the event, we unveiled a new sign at Amy Yee that describes the orchard and its history and provides a map with all of the fruit trees. The sign was made possible by funding from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In case you haven’t heard via our newsletter or social media outlets, this year we harvested over 28,000 pounds of fruit that would have otherwise fallen to the ground to rot. Since 1 in 5 children in the greater Seattle area go to bed hungry every night, we must not waste free and available resources. City Fruit’s work is helping to solve a piece of the food insecurity problem so many in our community face every day.

With 35 fruit trees, Amy Yee Tennis Center is one of many historic orchards found in Seattle’s ever-expanding urban landscape. Public spaces like the orchard at Amy Yee are tended by hundreds of volunteers throughout the year (not just during harvest season), and this final event was a celebration of our volunteer friends old and new. We were so fortunate to welcome Big Brothers Big Sisters on this day, and to be able to offer an opportunity for the youth from the organization to explore their natural environment by harvesting apples to eat and press into fresh cider. It was an experience many of them had not had before and will not soon forget.

Below are some great snapshots of our final large harvest event. If you or someone you know is involved at a local organization that would like to partner with City Fruit at the many public spaces we steward, please e-mail our Community Outreach Coordinator at melanie@cityfruit.org.

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Hazel starts the Amy Yee event

Amy Yee Sign Unveiling

 

 Melanie Peters is the AmeriCorps VISTA Community Outreach Coordinator with City Fruit. She can be reached at melanie@cityfruit.org.
Oct28

Alpenfire Cider

When they were young, Nancy and Steve “Bear” Bishop used to head up to Canada to take advantage of the lower drinking age. It was there that they first discovered hard cider. “We’ve been cider enthusiasts for so long, we’ve been learning about it since the 70s,” Nancy recalls. “We started making it as a hobby back then.”

The hobby turned into full-blown obsession after a fateful trip to Europe in 2001. While there, they visited the cider regions of England, France, and Spain, and realized they would have to plant cider apples to produce the kind of cider they tasted. Upon returning home, they enrolled in a Peter Mitchell class at WSU (naturally) and bought 900 French and English cider variety trees. They planted the trees on their land in Port Townsend, WA, in 2003 and saw their first harvest in 2008.

Their orchard was certified organic in 2005, and in 2009 Alpenfire Cider became Washington’s first organic cidery. The state requires two separate certifications to be considered an organic cidery, one for the fruit and one for the cider production process. This presented certain challenges, but the Bishops were up to it. “We didn’t have a real background in fermentation at first, and then we started to learn about the things involved with producing cider organically,” she says. “But we’ve learned to work around the challenges. We didn’t even stop to consider that we might do it differently. We were in the organic farming program way back when at Evergreen State, so that might have something to do with it.”

The additional work with organic production, coupled with the fact that the Bishops largely operate the cidery themselves, means they have to get creative when they need help. They have found success engaging the surrounding community through education. “Our favorite thing is bringing the local 4th graders out to help pollinate the trees,” Nancy says. “We gave the kids paintbrushes and pollen and had them go up and down the rows. Teachers had already covered bees and the pollination process in class.” The kids were so enthusiastic and such a big help that the Bishops plan to welcome them back every year.

City Fruit is excited to welcome Alpenfire to the 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser on November 6th. Alpenfire will be pouring three of their terrific ciders: Pirate’s Plank, a bone dry English style cider and 2014 GLINTCAP Gold medal winner; Glow, is a single varietal rosé cider made from the bright red flesh of the Hidden Rose apple (reminiscent of a watermelon inside); and Spark!, a customer favorite made with traditional cider apples and Lazy J’s heirloom varieties and a 2014 GLINTCAP Bronze medal winner in the common cider division.

Alpenfire Cider Logo

Oct27

Tieton Cider Works

Of the 355 acres that make up Craig and Sharon Campbell’s Harmony Orchards in the Yakima Valley, which have been in Craig’s family since the 1920s when his grandfather planted the first trees in Tieton, Washington, 55 are dedicated to growing cider-specific fruit. That’s enough to make the Campbell’s the largest producer of cider fruit in Washington State.

That’s no accident. Craig, who has a degree in horticulture from WSU and has been growing and marketing produce for over three decades, is uniquely qualified to make lots of cider. When he initially planted cider fruit in 2008, he started with twenty-five varieties on two acres to study growing patterns and flavor profiles. From that, he has narrowed it down to the ten varieties most suitable for Tieton Cider Works production, while leaving the door open to continuously experiment.

This attention to detail and passion for experimentation, not to mention hiring Marcus Robert, a fourth generation Yakima orchardist, as Tieton manager and cidermaker in 2010, has yielded a line of ten superb ciders and Perry’s. Utilizing bittersharps and bittersweets—Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, and Harry Masters Jersey among then—and blending with organic dessert apples captures the best of what each variety brings to the bottle and results in ciders with body and a depth of finish. And there’s likely more to come: in just the last four years, Tieton’s production has increased from 200 cases to 13,000, and a new production facility and tasting room will be open starting November 1st.

Tieton’s new facility will allow visitors an opportunity to perch up at the cider bar and sample six different core and seasonal ciders on tap. Three of those, Wild Washington, Dry Hopped, and Apricot, will be poured at City Fruit’s 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste on November 6th. Get your tickets now to experience the taste of Tieton ciders!

tieton tasting room

Oct23

Snowdrift Cider Co.

Snowdrift Cider, located in the heart of Washington apple country, started commercially producing artisan ciders around 2009. But Peter Ringsrud, who with his wife Mary Ann bought 40 acres in East Wenatchee in the early 1970s, has been working the land for a great deal longer. Peter grew up on an orchard in Cashmere, WA, owned by his father, Frederic, who left North Dakota during the Depression to look for work. He found it in the orchard fields of Washington state, and Peter followed suit.

“I’m an orchardist,” Peter says matter-of-factly. “I initially tried to make cider out of dessert fruit [like Red & Golden Delicious apples] that I’d grown for 40 years.” But something wasn’t right. Peter had become skilled at producing a variety of fruit wines over the years, and he couldn’t quite understand why his cider was coming up short. In 2004, he had a chance to take a Peter Mitchell class at Washington State University, and it finally clicked. “I realized I was using the wrong apples, so we grafted over a few acres of Red Delicious with heirloom varieties like Dabinett and Yarlington Mill.”

Quite suddenly, Peter had a whole new range of flavors to work with, and it shows in the delightful ciders Snowdrift produces today. A fan favorite is the Cliffsbreak Blend, full bodied with a light sparkle that carries classic English cider and bittersweet apple aromas followed by flavors of melons and dried fruit. Another is the Dry Cider, made in the English tradition and with a hint of toffee and a light sparkle that carries delicate orchard fruit aromatics in the lingering finish. You’ll find both of these blends at City Fruit’s 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste on November 6th. Get your tickets today to sample Snowdrift’s premier ciders from the heart of Washington apple country.

Snowdrift Cider Bottles
Oct21

Finnriver Farm & Cidery

Finnriver Farm & Cidery is a 33-acre organic farm and artisan cidery located along a restored salmon stream in the rural Chimacum Valley, a traditionally agricultural region on the Olympic Peninsula, 12 miles south of historic Port Townsend.

Keith and Chrystie Kisler form one half of the partnership that purchased what would become Finnriver Farm in 2004. Their business partners, Kate Dean and Will O’Donnell, were skilled farmers in their own right, and the four bought a blueberry farm from the folks who would become dear friends and mentors, Elijah “Lige” and Kay Christian. The couples renamed the land Finnriver Farm after their sons, Finn and River.

The Dean-O’Donnells eventually left to pursue other ventures, and Keith and Chrystie needed to figure out how to keep the farm running and add needed help. Working with the Jefferson Land Trust and Jefferson Landworks Collaborative, they were able to secure loans, placed protective conservation easements on the farm, and, taking Lige’s advice and in partnership with Eric Jorgensen, started a cidery to help keep the farm running. Now fully financed by generous individuals through the Local Investment Opportunity Network (LION), Finnriver can focus on its mission of wise land stewardship and promoting shared ecological and cultural vitality.

Many products of the farm’s cidery, like its row crops, are influenced by the changing seasons. Finnriver’s five “Elijah K. Swan” Seasonal Botanical Ciders, named for Lige and Kay Christian and the trumpeter swans that overwinter in the Chimacum Valley, utilize local Olympic Peninsula ingredients throughout the calendar year. The Forest Ginger, a fall seasonal blend, boasts spruce and Douglas fir tips that add a piney aroma, while rosehips foraged in and around the farm add succulent herbal notes to the Cranberry Rosehip winter seasonal.

Will Finnriver be serving one of its Elijah K. Swan seasonal blends at City Fruit’s upcoming Hard Cider Taste fundraiser? You’ll have to drop by to see! Join City Fruit and our friends at Finnriver on November 6th at Palace Ballroom to celebrate the 2015 harvest. In the meantime, drop by the Finnriver Farm tasting room any day of the week from 12-5 pm, and enjoy live music and wood-fired pizza this Sunday, October 26th.

Finnriver_new_logo

Oct16

Whitewood Cider

Dave White started making cider on a small scale in 2000, inspired by cider he sampled from Westcott Bay Cider on San Juan Island. A third-generation Washington native, Dave is a graphic designer by trade, and has over a decade of experience working in the specialty coffee industry. Inspired by specialty coffee’s “third wave” and use of social media to promote and educate the public, he started the Old Time Cider blog in 2007 as a means of promoting cider and, quite literally, putting North American cider on the map.

Around 2006, “Old Timey Dave” got his hands on a cider press and, as he puts it, “started grabbing fruit from abandoned lots, friends and neighbors.” He even got permission to pick from a cemetery. “For 2-3 years, I made cider like that.”

Things started coming together in 2008, when Dave got in touch with Rich Anderson at Westcott Bay Cider, who let Dave pick apples from the Westcott orchard. That was also the year Dave took the Cider Practices and Principles course at the Washington State University Experimental Ag station with Peter Mitchell, an internationally renowned expert in hard cider and Perry production. Dave shares this distinction with a great many of City Fruit’s Cider Taste partners. You want to learn about making cider and Perry? Talk to Peter Mitchell.

“That’s where I met Sharon Campbell [co-founder of Tieton Cider],” Dave says. “She and myself, along with Lars Ringsrud from Snowdrift were kind of the catalyst to get the group together.” The group to which he’s referring would become the Northwest Cider Association (NWCA), one of City Fruit’s Cider Taste sponsors!

In 2012, Dave and partner Heather Ringwood founded Whitewood Cider in Olympia, WA. To raise capital, they started a CSC (Community Supported Cider) program, which continues to this day and is capped at 50 subscribers per season. Dave and Heather debuted their first blends in 2013 and haven’t looked back.

“The South Sounder is an homage to my beginning gleaning fruit from old homestead and CSA orchards,” Dave says. Made entirely from locally foraged fruit, “it changes a little bit each year based on what we get.”

The City Fruit Hard Cider Taste may very well feature the South Sounder, as well as Old Fangled, a 100 percent heirloom variety blend fermented from Washington-grown Jonathan, McIntosh, Gravenstein, and Winesap apples, and Northland, Whitewood’s traditional offering crafted from European cider apple varieties. Join City Fruit and Whitewood Cider at the Hard Cider Taste fundraiser on November 6th, and see for yourself Washington’s newest craft cidery in action!

Whitewood logo

Oct13

Partner Spotlight – Rainier Valley Food Bank

Miguel Jimenez is exactly where he wants to be—six months into his job as Resource Development Coordinator at the Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB). “I started getting interested in food systems in college,” he says. “I worked an endless series of dead-end jobs after school, until I realized that’s not where I wanted to be in life. This position puts me on a trajectory to stay in this field and do something where I actually wake up in the morning and am excited to go to work.”

Energetic and exceedingly amiable, Miguel fits right in at RVFB. The atmosphere is light, folks are smiling, and everyone, whether they are giving food away or graciously accepting it, is happy to be here. The facility, which is the third busiest food bank in all of Seattle, is one of the smallest by square footage. “Working here is kind of like this endless game of Tetris. We’re constantly moving stuff around to make space for people and food,” Miguel says. “That’s what we’re into, people and food.”

Each month, RVFB serves up to 18,000 guests and distributes close to 40,000 pounds of food. To ensure supply keeps up with demand, RVFB accepts donations from a wide variety of sources, including Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, Seattle Urban Farm, Beacon Food Forest, neighborhood p-patches, food drives, churches, schools, and a litany of other community partners. City Fruit is proud to count itself among them.

Most Tuesdays during harvest season, City Fruit harvest coordinator Luke Jesperson drops off several crates of freshly picked South Seattle produce, often in excess of a hundred pounds. Harvested in the same neighborhood, sometimes just down the street, the fruit is picked from trees whose owners want to make a difference in their community. That spirit of sharing, of ensuring that no perfectly good food goes to waste, is of paramount importance to RVFB. Produce makes up a big portion of the food they give away, and a concerted effort is made to offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. City Fruit, Miguel says, is crucial in this regard.

“We couldn’t do a number of the things we do without what City Fruit does for us,” he says. “We put a strong emphasis on being able to distribute food that is healthy, nutritious, local, and, if possible, organic. City Fruit is a perfect storm that meets all of those needs for us. Luke brings us beautiful plums and apples, even figs on occasion, which are just phenomenal.”

Those who rely on RVFB for food every week often don’t have access to quality produce anywhere else. The folks at RVFB believe that it shouldn’t matter how old you are, how much money you make, or where you come from; everyone deserves to eat, and to eat well. They offer three programs: general onsite food distribution, home delivery for individuals with travel or physical limitations, and the to-go or “cold bag” program, which provides guests without access to a kitchen or storage enough pre-prepared food to eat throughout the day.

“Food isn’t just food,” Miguel says. “It means something to people—culturally, historically, socially. We serve single mothers, young couples, elderly couples, big families, lots of immigrants from all over the world including China, Vietnam, Ukraine, the Horn of Africa, Central America, and from all over the US. We view food as a gathering point, as a way to bring community together over one fact that’s true for all of us, which is that we need to eat.”

One of the single mothers Miguel refers to is Marquita Mychon, who volunteered at RVFB when she was homeless. Now she lives in Covington with her son, Sidney, and partner, Wesley, whom she met while volunteering at RVFB. “It’s been a way to give back,” she says, reflecting on the two-and-a-half years she has spent volunteering with RVFB. She gestures to a truck dropping off diapers in front of the food bank. “They recently started a program giving out 45 diapers a month [donated by West Side Baby],” she says, smiling as she looks down at Sidney, cradled gently in her lap.

City Fruit gives away much of its harvest in the summer, a fact not lost on families with children that rely on free and reduced lunch during the school year. Fruits like apples, plums, and pears, which make up the majority of City Fruit’s harvest, are staple lunch snacks. What City Fruit donates to RVFB during the summer months helps to ensure that families can maintain healthy eating habits year-round.

“Every time Luke brings in 3-4 crates of apples, that week 150 kids in the neighborhood get a snack,” Miguel says. “That’s one fruit tree in the city, one way that somebody can sign up with City Fruit without having to do a lot, and the impact is just enormous in our neighborhood. That’s kind of extraordinary to think about. They’re not eating a bag of potato chips. They’re eating something that you grew yourself. That’s cool. That’s where you see how a small effort can make a really large impact.”

One tree. That’s all it takes to provide a healthy snack to hundreds of people a week. If you have a fruit tree and would like to donate some or all of your harvest next year, please contact City Fruit at info@cityfruit.org. Together, we can make the 2015 harvest the best one yet.

Brian Mickelson is the development manager at City Fruit. He can be reached at brian@cityfruit.org.

RVFB Logo

Oct10

Nashi Orchards

Cheryl Lubbert and Jim Gerlach take sustainability seriously. Very seriously. Since purchasing the 27-acre Nashi Orchards and Farm on Vashon Island ten years ago, they’ve set out to become responsible stewards not just for their own land, but for the entire island. Installing solar panels allowed them to move away from oil and go completely electric, selling additional electricity back to the grid. Each winter when the trees go dormant, a flock of St. Croix sheep takes to the orchards to eat any lingering fruit, increasing soil nutrient levels and reducing over-wintering pests that affect the whole island. Pomace, or the solid remains of fruit once it’s been pressed, is distributed to other island farms to feed local livestock. All this helps ensure that the surrounding ecosystem of forest and streams, neighboring properties, and even Puget Sound itself, reap the benefits.

This makes perfect sense when you talk to Jim Gerlach, who along with his wife Cheryl has set out to make the Nashi Orchards experience all about the place itself. “Part of what we really enjoy is being able to share what we do with other people,” he told City Fruit. “We have orchard tours to show folks around the operation. It’s one of the things we really like about what we’re doing.”

The orchards contain mostly Asian pear (also known as “nashi”) trees transplanted decades ago from a trial orchard on Maury Island (on the eastern side of Vashon Island) by Pete Svinth, known locally as “Farmer Pete”, an expert fruit tree hybridizer now living in Olympia. Nashi Orchards is one of the few cideries that uses Asian pears to make its Perry. One such varietal is “Chojuro,” made of several kinds of Asian pears and featuring a rummy, butterscotch flavor. Another, the “Island Harvest Blend,” contains Shinsseiki Asian, perry, and seedling pears, and boasts a more fruit forward taste. They also make hard cider, and this year started the Vashon Island Cider Collaborative, an effort to craft a unique hard cider exclusively from Vashon Island apples donated by community members who then vote for a specific Vashon nonprofit to receive a portion of the proceeds.

Like its island neighbor Dragon’s Head, Nashi Orchards will be celebrating Vashon Island Cider Fest this weekend, including an orchard tour at 1pm tomorrow (if you’re lucky, you might spot Cheryl and Jim’s two Bouvier de Flanders, Gunther and Franz, chasing crows and ravens out of the orchards). City Fruit is excited to have Nashi participate in our 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser at the Palace Ballroom on November 6th. Come and experience the crisp, clean taste of Nashi Orchards Perry!