Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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/

Jan30

Support City People’s to support City Fruit

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City People’s Garden Store in Madison Valley is a locally owned and operated community garden store. Since opening in 1988, we have been committed to offering a wide selection of quality plants and organic and natural products to help you grow them. With over 15,000 square feet, the outdoor nursery is an urban oasis!

City People’s strives to give back to our communities who have so generously supported us over the years. Through donations and marketing avenues we support organizations that help us grow healthy communities in the areas of environment and gardening, education and youth programs, and food security.

This winter the Garden Store is concentrating support toward City Fruit through the sale of bare root fruit shrubs and trees.* 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these items through March will go to City Fruit. We will also host City Fruit workshops this month and throughout the year (details below, and on the calendar).

Bare root berries are coming from Peaceful Valley Farm, an organic farm in California; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, and currants, plus rhubarb, jerusalem artichoke, & asparagus. We are excited about this new organic vendor who use no sprays (including biological sprays), making sure not to harm any critters – especially fragile bees and butterflies.

Bare root trees from Mt Vernon, Washington and Mallala, Oregon include:
Apples – dwarf, columnar, espaliered & 4-way combo varieties
Pears - espaliered & 4-way combos
Cherries - including several dwarf varieties
Hardy Nectarine - dwarf
<& Plums, Figs, Meyer Lemons, Honeyberry, Kiwi, Japanese Pepper, Goumi, Grape and Hops!

City People’s Garden Store’s bare root fruit selection will be arriving the first week of February. Come early for the best selection!

* Buying bare root plants is an affordable way to grow your edible garden as you are buying only the plant and not the soil or the pot.


Don’t forget to check out City People’s Garden Store’s fruit-related talks coming this spring:
Registration is required. To sign up for a workshop, send an email to gardenstore@citypeoples.com or call the store (206) 324-0737.

Winter Fruit Tree Pruning
Sunday, February 9th, 11 am – noon
Winter fruit tree pruning can improve overall health and appearance and can increase fruit production. This class, co-sponsored by City Fruit, discusses pruning tools, basic biology behind pruning fruit trees, basic cuts and how to stimulate fruit production.

Planting Fruit Trees
Sunday, February 16th, 11 am – noon
Getting your fruit tree off to a healthy start means buying a healthy tree and planting it correctly. Root health is critical for tree health, and this class demonstrates the key considerations in planting a new tree. Bare root trees will be available and a portion of purchases of fruit will go to CityFruit. Instructor Jana Dilley is the Program Manager for the City of Seattle’s reLeaf program and is a certified arborist.

Pollinators — Mason Bees, Honey Bees & Others
Sunday, March 9th, 11 am – noon
Learn why pollinators are critical to fruit production, why mason bees are helpful in the Pacific Northwest rain, and how to encourage pollinators in your yard and orchard. This workshop is co-sponsored by City Fruit.

Jan30

Announcing our new Master Fruit Tree Steward Program

Fruit trees remind us of our agricultural past and continue to be an important community resource. To date, City Fruit has harvested more than 50,000 pounds of fruit from residential trees and donated it to those who otherwise couldn’t afford fresh produce. Keeping these urban fruit trees healthy is a priority.

MasterFruitTreeStewardProgram_01In 2014 City Fruit will launch a new Master Fruit Tree Steward Program with support from the King Conservation District Community Partnership Program. City Fruit will train lay fruit tree experts who can, in turn, teach their neighbors—an efficient and effective way to improve the health and productively of urban fruit trees.

In this train-the-trainer program volunteers will participate in workshops, field trips, and mentoring sessions on fruit tree care in exchange for providing hands-on support and mentoring to Seattle residents who live on properties with fruit trees. The 2014 goals include designing the curriculum, producing videos and slide shows, training an initial cohort of volunteer stewards, and creating a business model that is replicable and self-supporting.

Workshops will run from July – Dec 2014. Anyone interested in joining the project to become a Master Fruit Tree Steward should contact info@cityfruit.org  by May 15.

Jan28

MLK Day of Service

Urban-Orchard

Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

Realizing the importance of serving others, City Fruit coordinated over fifteen new volunteers at the Amy Lee Tennis Center. What ensued was a beautiful gathering of people who had no idea the Amy Yee Tennis Center is actually much more than a tennis center. It is an urban orchard with over 30 fruit bearing trees that, for better or worse, have not been taken care of over the years.

In just four hours, volunteers cleared out 20 tarp loads of invasive plants that had stymied the growth of fruit throughout the years. Although we can’t yet measure our success in pounds of fruit donated, the work is critical to the productivity of the various fruit trees at Amy Yee. With more work parties planned for the future, it is hopeful these trees will produce more bountiful fruit to provide to Seattle’s food insecure.

-Report from our Volunteer Coordinator, Melanie Peters. Originally posted on the Rotary First Harvest blog.

Jan27

New compact berry bushes from Raintree – great for small urban spaces!

Recent news from one of our favorite local nurseries:

Gorgeous four-season edible ornamentals for small spaces

BrazelBerries Peach Sorbet 3+: $19.95

Fruit gardeners with limited space and an eye for beauty will love the BrazelBerries®. They are new dwarf blueberries and raspberries bred to thrive in containers. True edible ornamentals, they are beautiful in all seasons and produce lots of delicious fruit in small spaces.
They are perfect for folks with limited space who want to grow their own healthy food on a balcony or patio. They will also thrive planted in the ground in your yard.
For many years, Raintree Nursery has specialized in edible plants for the different niches in your yard including many varieties that will grow well in pots.

BrazelBerries« Jelly BeanÖ 3+: $19.95

Look for them throughout the catalog and go towww.raintreenursery.com and learn lots more about varieties and techniques suited to growing wonderful fruit in containers.
Jan10

City Fruit welcomes Melanie Peters!

Greetings City Fruit Supporters,

Melanie at Rise Up FarmsMy name is Melanie Peters, the new AmeriCorps VISTA at City Fruit. I’m part of Rotary First Harvest’s “Harvest Against Hunger” program that has connected farmers, food banks, volunteers, and truckers to make sure no crop gets wasted, especially when food insecurity very much exists in our community. I’m thrilled to be starting this year of service to my country and community in Seattle with new challenges and rewards.

Growing up about twenty minutes outside of Chicago, some of my earliest memories were spent alongside my dad and sisters in our backyard, harvesting rhubarb to make fresh rhubarb pie. I’ve always had a connection to the land and to food, so it wasn’t a surprise when I picked up sustainability as a minor in college and began to work with the local food movement in Northern Indiana. I interned at Rise Up Farms during the terribly dry summer of 2012 where I learned the basics of permaculture, how to operate a CSA, and how grow bountiful vegetables without using caustic sprays or chemicals.

After graduating from Indiana University, I moved to Indianapolis to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Indy Hunger Network. I worked alongside wonderful people and organizations that cared deeply about making fresh food a reality for all, regardless of income. One of Indy Hunger Network’s proudest accomplishments occurred last year after receiving a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the USDA to fund a double-up incentive program at six Indianapolis farmers’ markets. This program provides up to a $20 match to any SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) recipient at any of the participating farmers’ markets.

At Indy Hunger Network, I also developed a gleaning program with Butler University’s Sustainable Foods Fellow that has since been taken on by a new AmeriCorps VISTA. In the two months that we operated what we called “The Glean Team,” we harvested over 15,000 pounds of produce (including 2,000lbs of apples!) with over 35 volunteers that would have otherwise been tilled under the ground. All of the produce was delivered free of charge by volunteers at neighborhood food pantries.

While most of my work in the food movement has been with vegetables, I’m ready and excited to learn and work with urban fruit and nut-bearing trees.  This year at City Fruit, I plan to vamp up the volunteer opportunities that City Fruit has to offer, increase member benefits, and coordinate harvest teams. I so look forward to meeting and working with each of you throughout this year.

Best,

Melanie A. Peters

 

Dec23

Paul Towers: Bees can’t wait 5 more years

The following is excerpted from Paul Tower’s blog in Civil Eats. 

Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees.  This month Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect.  In early December  in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees.

Bees pollinate much of our food, including the cranberries and pumpkin on so many Thanksgiving tables last monthHoney 1  w pollen. In fact, we rely on bees for about a third of our food.

But these noble pollinators are in trouble. Beekeepers in the U.S. have been losing, on average, over 30 percent of their bees each year since 2006—twice what is considered sustainable. And commercial beekeepers, whose bees pollinate California almonds, lost over 50 percent of their colonies last year. Some even reported historic losses of 70 percent or more.

This is unsustainable, not only for beekeepers, but also for our food system and the agricultural economy.

EPA has stated that it’s at least five years away from doing anything to protect bees from pesticides known to be harmful. First, the agency needs to complete its review of neonicotinoids, a relatively new and widely used class of systemic pesticides—which isn’t due to conclude until 2018.

Scientists point to neonicotinoids as a catalyst driving bee declines. While acutely toxic to bees (it kills them), studies have shown neonics also compromise bee immune systems and make them more susceptible to a wide range of other impacts like poor nutrition, mites, and diseases.

Until EPA completes its (very slow) review of neonic products, the agency will not take action to adequately protect bees from this known threat.

Beekeepers say they—and the bees—can’t wait for the agency’s glacial pace. Federal officials have tried to appease beekeeper concerns with aimless conferences and reports, along with changes to pesticide product labels that yield no additional protections for bees. But decisive action, not token action, is urgently needed.

As beekeeper Jim Doan of New York said: “Beekeepers are losing colonies at an unprecedented rate—the losses are too extreme to keep up with, and our entire industry is at risk of collapse unless federal action is taken.  Convening conferences and changing pesticide labels is not nearly enough.”

States in Action

Since EPA has failed to step up in a timely way, states across the country are taking up the issue of protecting bees. In New York and New Jersey, legislative leaders have already introduced bills that would ban or track neonicotinoid pesticides.

And last week, we were offered another glimmer of hope as Oregon regulators announced they are planning to restrict the use of neonicotinoids used on trees—and linked to a recent massive bee kill in that state.

While state action is helpful, bees need more comprehensive and uniform protections across the country. EPA should see states in action as a signal that the agency needs to step up. And quickly.

Take action » See a copy of the advertisement and join the Center for Food Safety, the Ceres Trust, Beyond Pesticides and PAN in sending a message to new EPA chief Gina McCarthy: It’s time to step up for bees.

- See more at: http://civileats.com/2013/12/02/above-the-fold-epa-protect-bees/#sthash.2B6Leq5J.dpuf

Nov05

City Fruit Silent Auction Catalog

Cider_Taste_2013_Final(1)

 

We are excited to announce that this year’s Hard Cider Tasting will feature an food-tastic silent auction.

Highlights:

-Signed copy of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine

-FinnRiver Cidery Tasting and Tour

-EcoBeauty Spa Package

-Hard Cider Making Kit from Sound Homebrew

-Dinner for two at Tom Douglas restaurant, Cuoco

-much much more!

Click here to download our silent auction catalog and thanks for supporting the urban harvest!

Oct17

John (Appleseed) Chapman’s Fruitful Eccentricity

This post is excerpted from a longer article by Don Ricks published in the Seattle Tree Fruit Society’s Urban Scion Post:

John Chapman (the original and real Johnny Appleseed) roamed Ohio in the early 1800′s and helped pave the way for the future western migration and colonization of settlers into what was then the frontiers of Ohio and Indiana.

Chapman was deeply religious.  A devout Christian, he was in fact a mystical Swedenborgian Christian, someone who might prefer to preach rather than to plant . . but did a lot of both.  He roamed the woods in stark clothes, slept outside, and was a marginalized character in a marginal frontier society.  He didn’t marry, although marriage was considered a necessary religious state to Swedenborgians.

Chapman believed grafting to be immoral and was concerned that apple trees shouldOldest Apple Tree come purely from seed.  As a result, he contributed much to genetic diversity and to apples that were fit for cider, maybe hard cider, but not apples that could match the sweetness of today’s eating apples.

 

Oldest apple tree in Washington State, Ft Vancouver, WA.