Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

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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 of paramount importance 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!

Oct09

Dragon’s Head Cider

Dragon’s Head Cider, named for the dragon that guards the apples of immortality in the Garden of Hesperides, was founded in 2010 on Vashon Island. The owners, Laura and Wes Cherry, are now in their third year of bottling, and production is going strong. Their orchard is brimming with over 1,500 apple and pear trees, with more planting planned for the winter. All cider making is done on site, and bottling happens but once a year. The Cherry’s believe that to make quality hard cider, fruit must be pressed during harvest season at its peak ripeness, so they never store apples in cold storage to use later. Once pressed, the fruit ferments in winter, is blended in spring, and ready to be bottled by early summer.

Dragon’s Head produces three ciders and a Perry. The Pippin Cider, lightest and brightest of its offerings, is made from 100 percent Newtown Pippin apples, one of America’s oldest varieties and purportedly a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. The Manchurian Cider, which features a blend of apples, is actually most evocative of the Manchurian crabapple. On the more experimental side lies the Wild Fermented Cider, which uses wild rather than commercial yeast in the fermentation process, making no two varietals alike. The subtly soft Perry is uniquely Vashon Island, made from a mix of local heirloom and seedling pears. All ciders are dry but have quite a bit of character.

This Saturday, October 11thDragon’s Head Cider will be celebrating Vashon Island Cider Fest by hosting tours of its orchards, as well as a tasting garden to benefit the Vashon Island Growers Association. If you can’t make it out, fear not, as Dragon’s Head will be one of ten cideries featured at City Fruit’s 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser at Palace Ballroom on November 6th. Get your tickets now for a chance to sample Dragon’s Head and experience ciders borne by intense passion and dedication. Such is the story of each of our Cider Taste participants, all of whom will be featured over the coming weeks on City Fruit’s blog. Check back often to see what they’re all about!

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Oct06

City Fruit celebrates National Public Lands Day

On Saturday, September 27th, City Fruit and 30 volunteers took to the Amy Yee Tennis Center orchard, whose trees were ripe for the fall harvest. The occasion served to commemorate National Public Lands Day (NPLD), a day of public service that began twenty years ago with 700 volunteers at three sites. Since then, it has grown into an annual event with over 175,000 volunteers in all 50 states. The essence of the day has remained unchanged – folks coming together to work the land and participate in the shared stewardship of our natural resources. In the spirit of NPLD, City Fruit staff and an eclectic group of volunteers converged on Amy Yee to pick and sort fruit and remove invasive vegetation.

Valerie Kimbrough simultaneously showing off a near perfect apple and launching a career as the world's greatest hand model.

Valerie Kimbrough showing off a perfect apple picked at Amy Yee.

Mark Miller, who plays tennis at Amy Yee, teaches an art class to students who attend Derech Emunah, an all-girls Jewish High School in Seattle. In need of materials to craft a roof for the temporary shelter his students were constructing to commemorate the Sukkot holiday, Mr. Miller came to remove invasive knotweed. It would make a perfect roof for the shelter, he explained, and be able to withstand traditional Seattle weather (read: rain).

Others, like first-time volunteer Valerie Kimbrough, a member of BECU, had heard about the volunteer harvest opportunity via the credit union’s newsletter (City Fruit is the recipient of a BECU People Helping People Award). Valerie is a firm believer in putting food to good use, and couldn’t have been happier to lend a helping hand.

Ellen Booth, one of City Fruit's extraordinary Ambassadors, removes protective bags from ripe apples.

Ellen Booth, one of City Fruit’s extraordinary Ambassadors, removes protective bags from ripe apples.

And then there were the standard bearers, like City Fruit Ambassador Ellen Booth. Ellen had been looking for volunteer opportunities around urban food supplies, which led her to City Fruit. A passionate advocate for feeding the hungry, Ellen sees Seattle’s abundance of fruit as an opportunity to put a public resource to work, and she’s made it her mission to attend as many food gatherings, fairs, and markets as possible around Seattle to educate folks and spread the word about City Fruit.

As a whole, the group was delighted to discover that the valiant efforts of our summer volunteers to encase apple buds in protective bags to ward off pests had largely been successful. Hundreds of pristine, unspoiled apples without the telltale signs of damage from apple maggot and codling moth filled the bins marked for donation. All told, volunteers were able to pick upwards of 600 pounds of apples, of which 230 was donated to ACRS Food Bank. As a reward for their hard work, volunteers were treated to fresh cider courtesy of City Fruit’s manual cider press.

This week is City Fruit’s “Harvest Celebration Week,” and we want to thank all of the dedicated volunteers who have helped City Fruit maintain Seattle’s urban orchards. Join us this Saturday, October 11 at Jefferson Park from 3-5 PM for a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, where there will be good food, plentiful cider, and fun outdoor games to play. We look forward to celebrating our most successful harvest ever (over 21,000 pounds and counting!) with those in the community who helped make it possible, and to continuing the valuable NPLD tradition of shared responsibility for the bounty that Seattle’s urban orchard provides.

Our youngest volunteers firing up the cider press!

Our youngest volunteers firing up the cider press!

Sep22

Welcome Brian to City Fruit!

We are delighted to welcome Brian IMG_0866Mickelson to City Fruit as our development manager. With the growth of City Fruit, we have created this new membership and communications focused role. He’ll be busy expanding our membership benefits and community partnerships. Over the next few weeks, he will be very focused on our upcoming harvest celebration week, October 5-12 and our cider taste, November 6!

We are very lucky to have Brian’s great experience and enthusiasm joining our team. He immediately wowed our team with his passion for food and environmental issues, and his meticulous research and preparation. I know you’ll be impressed by his energy and passion for Seattle’s urban orchard and helping our neighbors in need. (Brian has already added several untended trees to our database)!

Brian comes to us from New York City, where he worked for the Environmental Defense Fund as development coordinator. Before that, he spent a good amount of time in academic publishing and worked as a copyeditor in Boston.  He’ll be working with City Fruit part-time as he pursues his Master’s degree in public policy at the Evans School at the University of Washington. And somehow in between all of that, he’s looking for a good hockey league to join!

Finally, Brian is acclimating nicely to Seattle.  He already loves the apple as his favorite fruit and eats at least one a day, usually with his lunch. Along with his public health focused fiancée, he purchased a Subaru, but bikes or buses to work. Email Brian at brian@cityfruit.org or meet him during one of our many October events!

Aug21

Meet City Fruit Ambassador, Phil!

Phil fruitselfie                 Philfruitselfie2

Meet Phil. Phil is just one of 13 City Fruit Ambassadors. The Ambassador program is simple: as an Ambassador you’re the voice and face of City Fruit in the neighborhood of your choice by committing 3-5 hours of volunteer work every month for a year. There are general themes and objectives during certain months, but you get to choose your activities based on your skills and passions. As an Ambassador you receive awesome City Fruit gear, support and guidance from our Community Outreach Coordinator, and a cool community of like-minded folks in your neighborhood to meet and collaborate with on projects!

But let’s get back to Phil. Phil is one of our Ballard Ambassadors. In the words of Phil, “Really, it boils down to the people for me.” Before Phil was a City Fruit Ambassador, he led volunteer fruit tree harvests with Solid Ground — an incredible organization that used to harvest fruit trees in Seattle’s northern neighborhoods. Leading neighborhood harvests in Ballard is the reason why Phil decided to become an Ambassador.

As an Ambassador, Phil enjoys getting to know people  be it fruit tree donors or the people who receive the donated fruit. When Phil harvests a tree he likes to get to know the tree donor — why did they choose to donate their tree, what’s their experience with fruit trees, the history of their tree, etc.

However, what affects Phil most is the actual delivery of the fruit: “When you get to experience the appreciation for something that I think we all take for granted [access to fresh food] it changes the way you look at your own circumstances. It really makes me feel very fortunate, and energizes me to take steps to help others.”

To learn more about how to get involved with City Fruit, sign up to volunteer at one of our regularly scheduled harvests here. And don’t forget to view our calendar for other opportunities, too!

Jul09

Flexible Volunteer Opportunity: Become an Ambassador Today!

Rizal 0083 berries & skylineSummer is finally upon us and City Fruit is excited to announce a new, creative way to get involved with us this year!

The City Fruit Ambassador Program is a year long opportunity to use your skills, passions, and connections to be the voice and face of City Fruit in the neighborhood of your choice. City Fruit is looking for Ambassadors in the five neighborhoods where we currently work — Ballard, Phinney/Greenwood, South Seattle, Wallingford, and West Seattle.  

For example, say you live in Ballard and really love the idea of attending some neighborhood volunteer harvests with City Fruit. You could take your involvement a step further and instead of volunteering with City Fruit during an occasional Ballard volunteer harvest, you can be a City Fruit Ambassador and lead a monthly volunteer harvest with a few neighbors/friends in Ballard. City Fruit would support you in your endeavors by providing you with everything necessary to make your time as an Ambassador a success!

Here’s another, non-harvest related example of what you could do as a City Fruit Ambassador. Perhaps you live in Wallingford and are heavily involved with your local Parent Teacher Organization. As an Ambassador, you could speak at monthly meetings that you already attend or write a blog post or two about what City Fruit has been doing in the Wallingford neighborhood.

There’s a hundred different ways to get involved as a City Fruit Ambassador, and we look forward to hearing your unique ideas and working with you to make this a successful and rewarding program! To apply, click hereRemember, applications for the City Fruit Ambassador Program are due by Friday, August 1.

 

Jun12

Harvest Season has Begun!

As someone who is very interested in supporting local food and food justice movements, yesterday was a very exciting day for two reasons. First, and most importantly, yesterday it was reported that farmworkers had reached a $500,000 dollar settlement with Sakuma Brothers berry farm located in Burlington. The agreement also included reforms to keeping track of workers’ labor as well as longer and more consistent breaks throughout the day. Second, yesterday was also my first City Fruit harvest of the year! I was able to pick a few pounds of delicious cherries from the yard of one of our donors.

Cherry season has come earlier than ever before!

Cherry season has come earlier than ever before!

This was especially thrilling for me as it was almost three weeks earlier than we’d ever harvested in past years. Thanks to the warm spring along with some timely rain, we expect most of our fruit varieties to be ready much earlier than normal. Remember, if you have not yet taken our survey on whether or not you’d like your tree harvested, please do so. Ready or not, here harvest season comes!

 

Jun04

Summer Bliss in the Urban Orchard

Having just moved to Seattle from the Midwest in December to join City Fruit, I’ve yet to experience a true Pacific Northwest summer. In fact, many times when I talk to people about how I just moved to Seattle in December, they sort of lament with me a bit over the timing of my move, tell me to pep up, and that soon enough the weather will be so immaculate that  I’ll never want to be inside. If this weekend at the urban orchard  over at Amy Yee Tennis Center was anything like what summers in the PNW will be like, then I’m staying for good.

With the help of over 30 volunteers, we managed to put organic pest barriers on over 2,200 apples. Yes, you read that right. Together, we saved 2,200 apples from possibly being infected by worms, falling to ground, and essentially getting mushed up underneath our shoes. Our incredible volunteers came from various parts of our community — some from Issaquah, Edmunds, Kirkland, various neighborhoods in South Seattle, and even a van load of AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers from all over the country who were returning to Sacramento from the Oso mudslide disaster.

Check out some pictures below and join City Fruit as a volunteer in any capacity that you can this year! You can reach me at: melanie@cityfruit.org.

 

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Jun02

Welcome Yoga Behind Bars!

Meet our office-mates at El Centro–Yoga Behind Bars

Like City Fruit, this amazing organization is working in the Puget Sound area to make our community a more just and pleasant place to live. Below is a little about their mission, and a note from Rosa and Nari. We’re lucky to have such an inspiring team working alongside us.


 

ybb_decalYoga Behind Bars is the only nonprofit in Washington offering thousands of incarcerated people – youth, women, and men – yoga and meditation as tools for self-awareness, healing and transformation.  Just last year, over 18,000 people lived behind bars in Washington State. Through our programs, we strive to break the cycle of suffering and give people the opportunity to heal and prepare for healthy, fulfilling lives once they finish their sentences. Our volunteer teachers currently offer 27 weekly classes at 10 correctional facilities around the Puget Sound.

We are excited to share an office with City Fruit at El Centro, as we share a passion for social justice and healthy communities. Since we are both grassroots nonprofits, we face similar challenges and opportunities–the YBB team looks forward to exchange ideas, share resources and collaborate when possible. And although this is not directly related, our Executive Director is a permaculture designer who loves to garden.

You can learn more at their website: http://yogabehindbars.org

May30

The Collecting of Fruit and Thoughts

Hey there folks!

Meridian Park Orchard

Meridian Park Orchard – Photo by Audrey L. Lieberworth

Welcome to my City Fruit blog which will allow you to follow me as I ensconce myself in the food issues affecting the city Tom Robbins excitedly described as, “the best place to go to experiment with life,” -Seattle, WA. My name is Luke Jesperson and I am the new Harvest Coordinator at City Fruit. Our Executive Director and founder, Gail Savina, who has been coordinating the fruit harvest since the inception of City Fruit in 2009, is in the process of gradually retiring. While she will be advising me throughout the year, the work will be on my shoulders. As the old idiom goes, “I’m being thrown to the wolfberries,” and man do I have tons to learn! I’ve been told that the key to finding fruit to harvest is to first find trees that bear fruit and to find trees to harvest takes the generosity of the people of the community to donate their trees for us to harvest. If any of you would like to donate your fruit tree, please fill out this two-question survey. It is greatly appreciated!

What I hope to achieve with my blog is three-fold: one goal is to keep people updated on the status and my successes/failures during the fruit harvest in our community while highlighting the organizations working on this issue. My second goal is offer suggestions, opportunities, events to attend for those looking to learn and become more involved in food and hunger issues. And third, this blog will be a place in which I can reflect on the real issues of food justice, security, and hunger affecting our community today. After spending four years thinking about food on an international scale, multiple summers farming on a small, sustainable level, I look forward to working at the city level trying to have a positive impact on our community.

I’m very excited for the harvest season. As the Blue Scholars correctly stated, “ain’t nothin’ better than a summer in the Upper Left.”

 

 

 

 

May22

New to Fruit Tree Series – Kate & Andrew Plant a Fruit Tree

Written by Catherine ‘Kate’ Morrison, Executive Director of City Fruit
 

This past weekend, I planted my first fruit tree! Having just landed in the Greenwood neighborhood, one of the five areas where City Fruit harvests delicious pears, apples, plums, and more, I was disappointed to find not a single fruit tree in our garden.

I just moved from Washington, DC, where the closest I got to gardening or fruit trees was a box on our balcony filled with basil (or as I refer to it, pesto plant!).  I am so excited to join City Fruit as executive director, to learn about urban fruit trees, and to grow one of my own.

Since I’m new to this, I wanted to introduce a new blog series for beginners like me.

We first considered the best location in our yard for planting the fruit tree.  Based on City Fruit’s resources, we scouted out the best sun spots in the yard. Sugar requires sun, and the more of it the better.  A fruit tree needs a minimum of six hours of good, preferably afternoon, sun.

We found the perfect spot, and then went to look for our tree at the Bradner Gardens Park annual plant sale. With the help of volunteer experts, we decided on the Hollywood plum for several reasons:

  • The tree is self-pollinating, which means that it doesn’t require any other trees around to pollinate,
  • It creates pretty red leaves in the early Spring, and most importantly:
  • It makes tasty fruit!

For a list of good fruits to grow in the Northwest, check out this City Fruit resource page.

We planted the tree about 18 inches from our fence – checking in with resident fruit tree expert and our City Fruit founder Gail the next day, I learned this was a bit too close.  Oops!  We’ll be moving the tree this weekend to accommodate its full expected size – 12 feet tall with branches reaching out 6 feet (each way). Trees after all, grow round and tall, not just side to side.  My first #fruitfail!

Learn along with me! Send newbie questions on fruit tree care to info@cityfruit.org and I will address them in my blog.  If you’re already an expert or have some knowledge of fruit trees, you may be interested to know that City Fruit is hosting its first Master Fruit Tree Steward program, with support from the King Conservation District.  Learn more about the program, and apply by Friday, June 13 on the Master Fruit Tree Steward program application page.


For more information: City Fruit offers a variety of resources, including downloadable PDF information sheets and experts to help plant and maintain your fruit tree. 

 

Apr28

Peaches in Seattle?

This article was originally posted April 28, 2014 by Patrick Mann to the Brandon Triangle Orchard blog. Brandon Triangle Orchard is one of the sites lovingly cared for by Urban Orchard Stewards.


peaches 002I love peaches, and so do most people I know, so a peach tree was high on my list of fruit tree selections.

But how many peach trees do you see around Seattle? Not many, and for good reasons. So is the idea of Seattle-grown peaches sheer folly? Let’s consider all the reasons not to try growing peaches in Seattle:

Short-lived
Peach trees have a productive life of only about 20 years. Not much, compared to the over 100 years you can get from an apple tree. On the plus side, they grow fast and are precocious, bearing fruit earlier than many other fruit trees.

Chilling requirements
Seattle doesn’t get very cold, but since “chill hours” only require temperatures under 45°F, we actually get a surprisingly high average of 3000 chill hours. That’s more than enough for peaches.

Pollination
This is a serious issue. Peach trees flower early, when the weather is often too cold and wet to allow for successful insect-pollination. Fortunately, since peach trees usually require heavy thinning of fruit set, a sub-par fruit set may not actually be such a bad thing.

Disease
Peach trees are disease-prone. In particular, they are susceptible to peach leaf curl, a fungal disease promoted by cool wet winter weather, i.e. Seattle conditions.

Assuming you don’t want to spray chemicals, you do still have a few options:

  • Plant a leaf curl resistant variety, such as Oregon Curl Free, Avalon Pride, or Indian Free Peach
  • Protect your tree from winter rains by planting it against a house wall, under the roof overhang
  • Spray natural anti-fungals in early Spring, such as Trichoderma mix or Effective Microbes

Is it worth it?
That’s really up to you. I definitely think so. You won’t have a great harvest – or any – every year. But when the right conditions come together and you pick that perfectly tree-ripened fruit off your own peach tree, I think you will agree with me that it is worth trying.

Apr24

Passionate public health expert to lead City Fruit

City Fruit is growing fast, and for the past six months we’ve been looking to bring on someone with the energy and skills to take us to the next level.  I’m thrilled to introduce you to Catherine (Kate) Morrison.

CEMKate combines public sector know-how with a deep commitment to food justice.  Raised in St. Louis, she has a ten-year career in public health focused on building healthy communities.  Kate has been involved in efforts to address food deserts and build community markets in low-access areas, address senior hunger issues, and create safe neighborhood parks.

Kate’s skill set has already earned the respect and confidence of City Fruit’s board and myself. A great communicator, she has worked with local coalitions and organizations in nearly all 50 states to create public health policy, is an experienced political organizer, has managed million dollar-plus budgets and work plans, and has worked directly with lawmakers and regulators.  As you might expect, we feel extremely fortunate to have this depth and breadth of experience.

Kate is also a go-getter.  A resident of Seattle for less than two months, she has already found a job, bought a house, and signed up for her first Preventing Pests in Fruit Trees class — as she and her fiancee Andrew look forward to adding fruit trees to their new home in Greenwood.

Maybe most important is that quality you don’t see on the resume:  Kate’s compassion and kindness.  A self-described activist, it’s clear her motivation for joining City Fruit is a deep concern for making Seattle a better place for everyone to live and eat. Please welcome Kate at our Open House on May 3,  3:00 – 6:00,  in the new office at El Centro de la Raza.

 

 

 

 

Apr14

Eat for Equity Seattle

358253-250Looking for a way to spice up Sunday brunch?

On April 27th, why not dine to support immigrant and workers’ rights? Eat for Equity Seattle organizes community feasts for a cause, working towards building aculture of generosity in Seattle. Each month, E4E organizes events to bring community together for the greater good.

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In September, Eat for Equity held a community feast for City Fruit at the Picardo P-Patch, raising almost $400! This April, E4E is supporting the May 1st Action Coalition, which brings together individuals, community representatives and organizations to advance key workers’ struggles and immigration reform.

 

 

358254-250The Coalition organizes Seattle’s annual May Day March and Rally for Immigrant and Workers Rights to celebrate International Worker’s Day and advocate a more just and humane immigration system.

This will be Eat for Equity’s first ever brunch, and it will be hosted at El Centro de la Raza. The menu is cooked from scratch by volunteers, and will feature a biscuits and local jam (made by P-Patchers!) spring salad, a sunchoke and potato puree with breakfast sausages, quiches, a cardamom fruit salad, pour-over coffee and local tea, as well as Poinsettias made to order.

Everyone is welcome at this private party, but you must RSVP to secure your spot. Details can be found when you RSVP.

Interested in volunteering? Email seattle@eatforequity.org

Visit them on the web: www.eatforequity.org/seattle, follow us on Facebook: Eat for Equity Seattle, and on Instagram and Twitter: @eatforequitysea

Apr10

Celebrate Spring; Two great classes this weekend!

The weather outside is perfect for getting back into your garden, and perfect for pollinators to make their rounds in the fruit trees. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, check out these classes:


pollinators

Attract & Provide Safe Haven for Beneficial Pollinators, with journeyman-level certified beekeeper, Bob Redmond
SATURDAY 10am-Noon @ Bradner Gardens Park, 1730 Bradner Place South

If you’re interested in Native Pollinators, Don’t miss this class! Native pollinators comprise 99.96% of the pollinator species on the planet, and their existence is constantly under threat. Learn about these amazing species, their extreme importance to the future and security of food, and how you can benefit pollinators in your garden.

We’ll cover:
• Why pollination is vital for successful fruit crops
• History of pollinators
• How native bees differ from the standard honey bee
• How to identify native bees
• Attracting native bees—including what to plant
• How to create nesting habitats

City Fruit members – $20; general public – $25


containers

Success with Container-Grown Fruit Trees with Jacqueline Cramer, co-founder of Beacon Food Forest

SUNDAY 11am-Noon @ City People’s Garden Store, 2939 East Madison Street

Growing fruit trees in containers allows you to save space, move the tree around, reduce disease and, in many cases, produce more fruit. Join us to find out how you can successfully grow fruit in a small space!

We’ll cover:
• Appropriate trees for containers
• Soil types
• Understanding rootstocks
• Best Pruning techniques
• Special considerations for container trees

This class is part of the Second Sunday Series of fruit tree classes, a collaboration between City People’s Garden Store and City Fruit.

Call City People’s at 206-324-0737 to register – space is FREE, but an RSVP is required/appreciated. We hope to see you there!

Feb11

Farm Imaginings visits Danny Woo

Danny Woo Garden/Orchard © Camille Dohrn

Danny Woo Garden/Orchard © Camille Dohrn

 

A friend of City Fruit and local photographer Camille recently took a journey to Danny Woo community garden and orchard with her camera, and has some lovely photos to share. Check them out on her site, the Farm Imaginings blog:

http://www.farmimaginings.com/urban-farms/danny-woo-community-garden/