Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dec11

Fruit-Filled Recipe: Two Apple Shrub Recipes

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

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Simple Apple Shrub

Recipe by Leslie Seaton of Slow Food Seattle

Yield ~14 ounces

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

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

1 ¾ cup raw apple cider vinegar

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

 

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

 

Apple Shrub Punch

Recipe by Courtney Matzke of Swig Well

2 lemons

2 oranges

6oz sugar

8oz Apple shrub

1 750ml bottle of aged rum

1 bottle of sparkling rose

1 persimmon thinly sliced

 

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

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

Nov20

Getting Started with Mason Bees

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

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

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

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

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

 

Oct31

Capitol Cider

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitol Cider logo

Oct30

Seattle Cider Co.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle Cider logo

Oct28

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

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

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

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

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

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Hazel starts the Amy Yee event

Amy Yee Sign Unveiling

 

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

Alpenfire Cider

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

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

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

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

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

Alpenfire Cider Logo

Oct27

Tieton Cider Works

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

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

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

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

tieton tasting room

Oct23

Snowdrift Cider Co.

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

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

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

Snowdrift Cider Bottles
Oct21

Finnriver Farm & Cidery

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

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

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

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

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

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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 crucial in this regard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RVFB Logo

Oct10

Nashi Orchards

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

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

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

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

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!

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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