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Food Waste Makes National Headlines

foodwaste-blogThis month, John Oliver highlighted the issue of food waste in his weekly show, Last Week Tonight. Check out of the full segment here (warning: contains some explicit language).

He highlighted the outrageous amount of food we waste in America — 40 percent! Research in Seattle shows that young professionals and families with small children are most likely to waste the greatest amount of food.

We recently asked campers at the Pacific Science Center’s Farm to Table Camp how much food they thought we wasted in the United States in regards to number of football stadiums. Most guessed ten or twenty stadiums.  But thanks to John Oliver we know that number is 730. Imagine 730 Seattle Seahawks stadiums FILLED with food waste!

Since learning about the issue of food waste and joining City Fruit, we’ve tried hard at my home to reduce our waste through a few strategies:

  • Carefully considering what we buy at the grocery store.  Do we have enough to make meals for the week? What is going bad?
  • Freezing everything.  I’ve yet to find something that cannot survive freezing.  For fruits and vegetables, I try to clean and chop the produce into pieces before freezing.
  • Creative recipes. In the winter, we make stew from leftover ingredients (plus all the bits and pieces of fruits & veggies we are less familiar with).  And in the summer, we create unexpected sorbets, margaritas, and infusions.

Here is one recipe that worked out quite well when a watermelon we purchased started to turn.

Watermelon Margaritas

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • Lime wedges or watermelon balls (optional)

Directions: Mix everything except the sugar in a blender.  You can prepare the glasses with a sugar rim if you like. Garnish with lime wedges.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for our free class on using up your summer produce on August 22! Find more information and register here.




Meet Your 2015 Harvesters


Pictured from left to right, Dusty Towler, Luke Jesperson, and Yvonne Socolar comprise City Fruit’s 2015 harvest crew!

Going into his fourth summer as a harvester with City Fruit, Dusty is focusing on West Seattle. Luke, City Fruit’s Harvest Manager, will be working in South Seattle including the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Rainier Beach, and Columbia City. Yvonne Socolar is harvesting in North Seattle, covering the neighborhoods of Wallingford, Ballard, and Phinney/Greenwood.

City Fruit has expanded the harvest into Northeast Seattle for the first time ever this year, which is covered by Luke and Yvonne – our first fruit of the season were Bing cherries from View Ridge!
These three have been kept busy harvesting for the past three weeks with the early season this year, and have already donated over 5,000 lbs of fruit to Seattle food banks!
Want to get involved? We need your help!


Special thanks to our summer intern Sam Maylor, who has been rotating as an extra set of hands wherever he is most needed!


Get to know Seattle’s Early Season Apples (and how to turn them into butter!)

As July rolls around each year, you may notice a certain type of apple that seems to already be fully sized and ready for harvesting while most apples are just beginning to grow. These apples are called transparent apples and on sight, can be distinguished by their extremely light (shall we say, transparent?) greeTransparents holy cross 2012n skin. Last year we harvested nearly 2,000 pounds of Transparent Apples from around the city. If you have had the chance to bite into one of these apples, your first reaction was probably, “whoa! these are tart!” This early season fruit has a very bold, tart flavor. This, along with their dry flesh, makes them one of the best apples for cooking all sorts of apple treats such as apple butter, chips, and sauce. This coming Saturday at the Wallingford Senior Center we will be hosting our first cooking class using transparent apples. We will provide the apples and all participants will go home with some of each treat! For more information or to sign up for this weekend’s event, go to the calendar section of our website or simply click here!


Meet City Fruit’s Summer VISTA and Interns!


Pictured from left to right, Sam Maylor, Ethan Davis, and Allie Andrade have joined the City Fruit office this summer, focusing on a variety of projects to help build City Fruit’s capacity.

Both Environmental Studies majors at the University of Washington, Sam and Allie will be working with City Fruit as part of their senior capstone project. Sam will be assisting with annual harvest efforts, while Allie will be focusing on community outreach. Together they will write a series of impact briefs that connect City Fruit’s work with larger issues and policy.

Ethan is an IT major at Portland State University, home to enjoy the summer in his native Wallingford neighborhood! An AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Ethan will be working to develop maps of Seattle’s public orchards, and has already mapped and measured the trees at Meridian Park! This extra set of hands is made possible by Rotary First Harvest.

We asked our interns some very important questions to get to know them a little better:

Favorite fruit: A tie between yellow peaches and watermelon
Favorite summer activity: Kayaking
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
A highlight so far was tabling at the Wallingford Farmer’s Market. I really enjoyed the chance to interact with one of the communities that City Fruit works in. I was able to meet many community members who already were involved with the organization in one way or another as well as talk with those unfamiliar with City Fruit about why City Fruit is important in their neighborhood and how they can get involved.

Favorite fruit: Peaches
Favorite summer activity: Playing outdoor sports in the sun
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
Getting to explore the orchards around the city.

Favorite fruit: Mangoes
Favorite summer activity: Going to music festivals
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
Harvesting loquats! Loquats were awesome – they were super easy to pick, super tasty, and they’re really bright orange so when you pick a whole tree of them you can see what you’ve done really clearly.

Keep an eye out this summer for Ethan in one of Seattle’s public orchards, Allie at outreach events, and Sam on a ladder in your backyard!


Harvest is here!


The first piece of fruit picked in 2015!

After a 239 day hiatus, the harvest has officially begun! Our first harvest this year came 12 days earlier than our first harvest last year and resulted in 30 pounds of delicious Bing Cherries donated to the El Centro Food Bank (I do have to admit, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a few as well.) Since that first donation on June 15th, we have harvested more cherries, transparent apples, and even some red plums! The warm weather didn’t give us much time to ease into harvest season which is ok by me as I’ve been antsy to get back out and celebrate the diverse and bountiful urban orchard we have in Seattle from the vantage point of my orchard ladder.

If you have not yet authorized your tree for the 2015 City Fruit harvest, please do so early so we can properly plan and prepare. Feel free to email me to opt-in or with any questions at [email protected]

Happy Summer!






Happy National Pollinator Week!

During National Pollinator Week, we wanted to reflect on and celebrate the insects that make City Fruit’s annual harvest possible!

OCopy of Honey 1 horizne out of every three bites we eat (including fruit from fruit trees) is courtesy of a pollinator, i.e. bees, wasps, moths, flies, and bats. While there are many different pollinators that contribute to pollination, honey bees are crucial to the pollination of our fruits and vegetables, and are regarded as one of the most critical links in the United States agricultural system.

In the past 10 years, honey bees in particular have been threatened. First reported in 2006, “Colony Collapse Disorder”, referring to the large scale loss of honey bee colonies, has raised alarm about threats to honey bee health and the potential for their widespread disappearance – from 2006-2011, United States beekeepers experienced an average total loss of 33% every year.

Although these numbers are significant, there is reason to celebrate as both local and national policies are starting to take action to protect pollinators this spring. Last month on May 18th, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to become the 8th certified Bee City USA in the nation! By becoming a Bee City, Seattle will now adopt a set of standards to create sustainable pollinator habitats. A day later on May 19th, the White House released the historic National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, outlining a set of goals to curb the loss of honey bees and other important pollinator species like monarch butterflies, as well as restore pollinator habitats.

These policies mark important milestones in protecting pollinators and the food we cultivate along with them. City Fruit couldn’t harvest urban fruit and share the bounty with neighbors and friends without the work of pollinators – as we turn towards harvest season, this Pollinator Week we celebrate the entirety of the growing process – from seed to flower to fruit to table.


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.



Wealthy: Heirloom Apple

by Don Ricks, lead orchard steward at Piper’s Orchard, Amy Yee Tennis Center Orchard, and Good Shepherd Center orchard







Probably the most historic orchard in Seattle is Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park. Some apple and pear trees there were planted over 120 years ago.

These trees were planted by Andrew W. Piper after he left his bakery business in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and retired to “the country” to work on his orchard and other projects.

The most common variety of fruit that he planted that survives today is called the Wealthy apple. This apple was common 100 years ago but is not common today. It is a variety that was primarily used for pie apples at the time, but even today it is highly prized as an apple for making hard apple cider.

The Wealthy apple was discovered by Peter Gideon of Excelsior, Minnesota in the late 1800s. At the time, Mr. Gideon invested literally his last dollar to try to come up with an apple that could withstand the cold Minnesota winters. We can be glad today that he discovered such a healthy apple because not only are the trees exceptionally long-lived, but they have been amazingly prolific year after year in Piper’s Orchard.

The Wealthy apple is just one of many heirloom apples still going strong here in the Pacific Northwest.

Click here for a map of the fruit trees at Piper’s Orchard:

For more information about Piper’s Orchard, see the City Fruit website describing stewarded orchards.

Photo credit: Seattle Tree Fruit Society Bob’s 100



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.


Cultivars in Seattle Public Orchards


the Red Astrachan apple, found in Piper’s Orchard

Visit Seattle’s public orchards to discover apples that were commonly grown in the 1900s, 1800s, or even earlier. The word “cultivar” refers to a specific plant variety. Below is a list of 52 apple cultivars  that can be found in orchards stewarded by City Fruit. Most of the varieties listed below are heritage apples, no longer grown commercially. Stay tuned for future blogs that feature one or more of these historic varieties!




Cultivar Orchard
Alexander Piper’s Orchard
Belmac Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Belmont Piper’s Orchard
Ben Davis Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Beni Shogun Fuji Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Bietigheimer Piper’s Orchard
Blue Pearmain Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Bramley’s Seedling Good Shepherd Center
Dolgo crabapple Piper’s Orchard
Duchess of Oldenburg Meridian Playground, Piper’s Orchard
Dutch Mignonne Piper’s Orchard
Early Fuji Freeway Estates Community Orchard
Early Harvest Piper’s Orchard
Empire Good Shepherd Center
Esopus Spitzenburg Piper’s Orchard
Golden Delicious Amy Yee Tennis Center, Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Meridian
Golden Russet Piper’s Orchard
Gravenstein Freeway Estates Community Orchard, Good Shepherd Center, Martha Washington Park, Meridian Playground, Piper’s Orchard
Hawkeye Delicious Piper’s Orchard
Honeycrisp Freeway Estates Community Orchard
Hudson’s Golden Gem Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Meadowbrook Playfield
Jonagold Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Good Shepherd Center
Jonamac Good Shepherd Center
Kidd’s Orange Good Shepherd Center
King George V Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Liberty Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Freeway Estates Community Orchard, Good Shepherd Center, Dr. Jose Rizal Park
Lubsk Queen Piper’s Orchard
Macoun Good Shepherd Center
McIntosh Meridian Playground
Melrose Good Shepherd Center
Northern Spy Freeway Estates Community Orchard, Martha Washington Park, Meridian Playground, Piper’s Orchard
Pristine Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford)
Red Astrachan Piper’s Orchard
Red Delicious Meridian Playground
Red Gravenstein Meridian Playground
Rhode Island Greening Meridian Playground, Piper’s Orchard
Roxbury Russet Piper’s Orchard
Spartan Amy Yee Tennis Center, Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Good Shepherd Center, Martha Washington Park, Meadowbrook Playfield
Swaar Piper’s Orchard
Tolman Sweet Piper’s Orchard
Tompkins King Amy Yee Tennis Center, Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Good Shepherd Center, Martha Washington Park, Piper’s Orchard
Twenty Ounce Good Shepherd Center
Tydeman’s Red Good Shepherd Center
Wagener Piper’s Orchard
Wealthy Piper’s Orchard
William’s Pride Freeway Estates Community Orchard, Martha Washington Park
Winesap Dr. Jose Rizal Park
Winter Banana Meridian Playground
Wolf River Piper’s Orchard
Yellow Bellflower Amy Yee Tennis Center, Burke-Gilman Trail (Wallingford), Piper’s Orchard
Yellow Newtown Pippin Piper’s Orchard
Yellow Transparent Piper’s Orchard



We’d love to get you engaged in the City Fruit family! Check out upcoming events, become anambassador 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.


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!


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.)



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.



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.


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.


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


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!”


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


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


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!


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.


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.


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 [email protected] 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.



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


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