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:
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:
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 email@example.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.
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.
In 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15.
Greetings City Fruit Supporters,
My 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.
Melanie A. Peters
TIME: at Cuoco
LOCATION: Cuoco’s Sophia Room
Cost: $40 for one class
All proceeds of this event will benefit City Fruit
Cuoco is proud to team up with *City Fruit for a 3 month series of cocktail classes. These cocktail classes will focus on the fruit being harvested around the city and will demonstrate various techniques for utilizing fruit in drinks including bitters, infusions, syrups, purees, pickles and more! Sampling of all the drinks created as well as snacks will be provided, along with the opportunity to get some hands on participation.
Class attendees can expect to take home recipes, a city fruit membership (which gives them access to special events as well as discounts at various nurseries around town), fruit from City Fruit, as well as treats to make cocktails at home!
50 North is a family-friendly neighborhood place with an excellent bar and great upscale American food. A fun evening is guaranteed! www.50northrestaurant.com
Who? Everyone, friends, family, co-workers and then some…
What? A Fun Benefit for City Fruit
Where? 50 North – 5001 25th Ave NE #100 at Northcut Landing, just North of Chase Bank. Easy, free garage parking!
When? 6 – 9 pm on Wednesday, August 21st. If you want to stay for dinner, you can make a reservation at www.50northrestaurant.com. 50 North generally stops serving dinner at 9 pm and the bar and bar menu shut down at 10. If business demands it, they will extend hours as necessary.
Why? Why wouldn’t you want to have a fun evening with good friends while supporting City Fruit
How? 50 North helps us raise money through:
• 10% of special drink sales for the charity
• Tip Jars around the bar for the charity
• Stickers on the restaurant bills to write in an amount to give the charity and charge it to your credit card
• And they make a donation to the charity
More: Bring anyone you want – friends, family, and co-workers. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
What is a branch collar? Where does the scion meet the rootstock? Last Saturday morning, representatives from 9 different urban orchards learned the answers to those questions and more at Fruit Tree Biology class at Bradner Gardens Park.
City Fruit director, Gail Savina, explained the parts of a tree and how to select varieties to grow in maritime climates during class. Bradner was the perfect location for applying the knowledge we learned immediately as we examined the compartmentalization, or the sealing off of a wound, and growth structure of an old apple tree. We also learned how to identify where first-year growth ended and new growth started which is important to know when trying to figure out where to prune; some fruit trees produce fruit on older branches while others will produce on new.
Most class attendees were new stewards with City Fruit’s urban orchard stewardship program. City Fruit stewards commit to working at an orchard for two years and attending four work parties per year. In return, City Fruit provides free trainings, Fruit Tree Biology being the first of three core classes. Interested in becoming a steward? Click here to find out more information.
Interested in learning more about fruit tree biology and general fruit tree care? Check out City Fruit’s online resource page for factsheets, book recommendations, and helpful harvest tips.
By Amanda Lee
Adapted from “Bubby’s Homemade Pies” by Ronald M. Silver and Jen Bervin (John Wiley & Sons, 2007)
Photo by Emily Barney on Flickr
Time: 2 hours
Dough for a 9-inch single-crust pie
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup, packed, light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough and line pie pan. Prick dough with fork, then line with foil. Fill bottom with pastry weights or dry beans. Bake 8 minutes, remove foil and weights and bake 8 to 10 minutes longer, until pastry looks dry and is barely starting to color. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Place flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor and process briefly to blend. Dice 6 tablespoons butter and add, along with pecans; pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
3. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet. Add apple slices and sauté over medium heat about 5 minutes, until a bit softened around edges, with some just starting to brown. Remove from heat. Mix remaining brown sugar and cinnamon with a pinch of salt, the cloves and nutmeg. Pour over apples and fold together. Fold in whiskey.
4. Pour contents of pan into crust and top with crumbs. Place pie pan on a baking sheet, bake 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes longer, until topping browns and juices bubble. Allow pie to cool completely before cutting. Pie can be made a day in advance and warmed for serving.
Ethan Russo will present the results of his personal experience using an organic spray regimen to prevent apple maggot fly and codling moth on Saturday, March 16, from 10:00 to noon at Seattle University. Don Ricks will join Ethan to discuss his experience with pheremones, traps and GF120. This event is presented by Seattle University Grounds Department in collaboration with City Fruit. Ethan Russo, a Vashon Island fruit grower by hobby and pharmacological researcher by profession, had excellent results using an organic spray recommended by Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard. Don Ricks, a local fruit tree expert, is a lead steward at Piper’s Orchard.
The event is free, although a $10 donation is suggested. Space is limited. RSVP by contacting email@example.com and we will send you the room information.
Note: Two weeks after Lori interviewed Barb Burrill for this post, Barb was named a national finalish for Volunteer of the Year, an award organized by the Alliance for Community Trees in Boston.
Barb and I met at Mosaic Coffeehouse in Wallingford, which she recommended. This sprawling space, below a church, has lots of big mismatched tables and chairs, comfy chairs and sofas, and a whole separate room for kids. And they take donations for the coffee, tea, and sweets, so you pay what you’d like. So cool. I can see why Barb loves it so much! Gail was with us in spirit, too, as half the questions I asked Barb were hers…
Barb: My son started school at John Stanford International. To get there, you walk along the Burke-Gilman from our house. So I’d walk him to school and pick him up. . . . I’m trying to remember now. I noticed some trees. Well, really two trees, along the way. One of them took me a long time to notice, because it was a tree that was totally enveloped by laurel. You could only see it when it bloomed. I could see it sticking out the top.
So I’d had some training before with Green Seattle Partnership (now Forterra). And so I knew, had experience, in removing invasives, and that’s pretty much what it was at that point with those trees, just finding the tree under the laurel, and then blackberries with the crabapple. So then I started noticing more trees along the trail, that was my main route. And then I went farther in both directions. I had that in mind. And then—I don’t know how—I heard about City Fruit. . . . So had that connection. So then when they started talking about the orchard stewards, I suggested, I guess, it was 6 trees on the Burke-Gilman.
And then the Burke-Gilman got selected! And I thought “Alright!” It’s such a strange park. I mean it’s trees that have been either abandoned or volunteers. There are now 23, and then there are two others, we keep finding them!
Barb: The farthest that we have taken on is the University Bridge to the east. . . . The other end is Northlake Place and Northlake Street, which is just west of the new Center of Wooden Boats, which is west of Gasworks. There’s one there, and one tiny one beyond that. So that’s the farthest west. But the tiny one needs to be moved, because that’s totally shaded. I do count that one. And there are a couple just across from Gasworks that aren’t official, they’re on a really steep slope and totally shaded, so it could be 25 trees now. Unless we plant some.
Barb: Well, it’s a fluid group. The big work parties, which have done most of the invasive removal recently, and a small core. In the past, our first work parties, we did do some blackberry work and then follow up. But it’s something where you really need a lot of people and generally, if you have a larger group of people, there’s a certain core that likes to do that. Most people do not like to do that. [Lori giggles.] But the ones who do, do really get into it. We have, really 3, maybe 4, people in our group that like to do that, so it’s not something that we do all the time.
And I guess that’s part of it. With our core group, there are certain things that they like to do, some don’t go on ladders, and most don’t do pruning. So it’s kind of the thing, we can choose what we do, and now that our trees are cleared, there are sort of easier chores that can be done for most of them.
Lori: So they can follow their passions?
Barb: Yeah, and if it fits into their schedule. So things like — we had a couple who were planting daffodil bulbs, just as an apple tree guild. And they did that as they could. We have more people working now than initially, so it’s harder to get together as the whole group. But it’s a combination now between the small group that is doing things over time and then the other, bigger, corporate groups. There’s one more—I have a meeting tomorrow with Seattle Parks to see if we can clear another area around some new trees now: one a volunteer and one that was planted. Once that’s done, though, the maintenance is pretty minimal. Do you put socks on? And harvesting. And thinning. Those are the big things.
Lori: So Gail’s question about how you keep a loyal support group, I heard fluid, I heard as their schedules allow, and I heard small core group and using temporary big groups.
Barb: Yeah. Flexible. . . . I’ve been trying to get somebody to be in charge of scheduling, because I find it hard to schedule myself out. And then we have people—some who can’t come on Sunday mornings, some who can’t do Saturday mornings, so that. I’d like to delegate that scheduling to somebody who can manage that and then to have that published so that the people who like us on Facebook, who have come from corporate groups, can find it and take part, so it’s a little easier for them.
Barb: It’s always fun when people stop, and thank us, for what we’re doing. It’s really interesting—it’s amazing—to me, how that varies depending on where we are on the trail. Even though it’s about a mile and a half, yet not everybody goes the whole length of the trail. We get certain kinds of affection in certain areas and others not so much, it’s really interesting. Maybe it’s certain people who see us more often, I don’t know.
And then last year was really good, because we had such a big harvest, which was amazing, with just that little bit of love. I mean it’s mostly just been clearing and spreading bedspread compost from the zoo, and not even—very, very little pruning—but a HUGE difference. And that’s how we’ve had the most reaction, because people can see through the trees and between the trail and the sidewalk, and they are amazed at how it feels. It’s so open, and they can see the trees, they can see the apples when they’re on the tree, and they’re not left to rot on the ground. It really is, it’s beautiful, and has an arboretum sort of feeling there, so there I think we’ve had the most response from people. Pruning the trees as they grow out over the trail, too, they were obstructing as much as half the width of the Trail – so yeah, we have a lot of good feedback.
Lori: I thought the fact that when you did the cider pressing in the fall, that’s one of my favorite orchard steward moments. You letting different people use the cider press along the trail. I go to lots of cider presses, and usually there’s a couple of big, burly experts doing the cider pressing. Yours was so unique. There were kids using it, and lots and lots of people trying it and using it, and you had a lot of us who became expert in the process of using it, not showing up as experts.
Barb: That was our second year. The first year we had two—a brother and sister, probably only 6 and 8 years old—and they ran it two out of the three hours. [We laugh.] Because that’s normal for our little cider pressings, to have kids doing it.
Barb: Well, keeping track of what’s going on with individual trees is really hard for me. It’s another area we could use some help. We’ve toyed with the idea of assigning a steward to each tree, but we don’t have people living along the same area. The hardest part is to be aware of what’s going on. Once you decide to go there, they’re not that far away, but it’s, you know, what stage they are. I’ve been keeping track of blooming times, and harvest times, and so now I know which come first, and which are next, so that helps.
Lori: I can imagine. Most of the other orchards–I’ve been to 6 or 7 in Seattle this past year–and most of them when you’re in the orchard, you can yell at each other, regardless of where you are, you can hear each other, and you can sort of coordinate on the fly, from within shouting distance.
Barb: And we generally don’t do more than one location during a work party, and that’s kind of tricky too, because some of them are just individual trees. But yeah, for this, we’re having a group from Washington State University come on March 10th, and it’s a very organized group from there. It’s their spring break, and they do service in different areas around the state, and we were chosen as one of their sites, so I want to get them a good experience, but I don’t really have much for them to do where we have a lot of trees, I mean they’re in pretty good shape. And they’re not pruners or grafters. So it’s getting a little trickier to find a big area for people to do things other than pulling invasives and hauling wood chips.
Lori: More guild planting?
Barb: Yeah. But we need, we have a lot of slopes, where blackberries need to be pulled and then replaced with something.
Barb: But, I tell ya, the main challenge for me is working under I-5. It is so noisy. That’s where the cider pressing was. I have to have ear plugs, really good ear plugs.
Lori: I’m going to write that down for Gail: “Remove section of I-5.” [We laugh.]
Barb: Yeah. It’s really. I mean, talk about not being able to communicate when you’re right next to somebody.
Barb: Well, Craig Thompson is amazing. I’m just so inspired by him.
Lori: At Jose Rizal?
Barb: Yes, Jose Rizal. Yes, how much he gets done. And then his persistence. [She belly laughs.] It’s not like we have had any real issues here. We just, I’ve had great support. From Parks. And we haven’t really had many problems. But he’s been working there for a long time, and had a lot of things that he’s dealt with, so yeah. He just gets things done.
And also, another inspiration is, not an orchard steward group but an urban forest group. Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail, they work up around 65th, and they do major, major restoration, and they are so persistent and consistent. They’re mostly retired, and they do strictly restoration. They just have been at that for years, doing amazing work.
Barb: Well, since it’s so strung out, we’ve talked about having walking tours. And that’s possible a couple of different ways. In Wallingford there is Wallingford Walks. So it would be fine as one of those. And also, last spring, I met Penny who is the Tree Ambassador for Greenlake and Wallingford, I think she’s the first one.
Lori: What a great title!
Barb: Yeah! Isn’t it? And she’s something. She’s got a digital tour of the trees around Greenlake. And so you can have it on your phone, but ah, wouldn’t that be nice? She’s already done it. And we only have 20 something trees compared to her–she doesn’t have every single tree on it–and all the different species, but yeah. The Wallingford Walks are fun, because they’re really community based. We’re a little trickier, because where do you end up [laughs] once you’re in the area? If you started at one end, you could end up, there’s Essential Baking Company on the hill, we could end there. Then there’d be a coffee shop.
Lori: Yeah, human logistics. Need a bathroom stop along the way, coffee. Essential Baking would be a great stop. We were just in there.
Barb: They’re pretty much straight up from that last tree.
Lori: That reminds me of something I read last summer. Some village in England or Ireland or Scotland. They made their entire village a walking tour. They put up permanent plaques. And you can do it without a guide person. And you can go from plaque to plaque, and there’s a digital component. You can scan things and get more information for the entire town.
Barb: Well, yeah. There’s so much history. With these trees, you can get that in there, and gosh, I . . . found Paul Dorpat’s Web site. He’s amazing historian. He does the “Now and Then” column for the Pacific NW Magazine in the Sunday Seattle Times. I’ve been meaning to talk to him for a long time about the history of these trees and what he knows about the trees on the trail. And you get on his web site and he has digitized plats from 1912 so you can see what was going on where these trees are in the city at that time. Most of them are old trees.
Lori: And you’re also doing the Facebook page, which seems to be educating the public.
Barb: Yeah, yeah. I always link it to City Fruit education, and to fruit tree education and care in general, because I just like to talk to people in the neighborhood about their trees. And they don’t usually know what’s going on with us, in south Wallingford. They know about Merridian probably more so, but yeah, they just think it’s a great idea. Pretty much the most popular question is “What do you do with the fruit?” and we when we say we give most of it away, they’re pretty happy to hear that.
One of the things that’s most exciting about those trees is finding that one—and another that’s not officially part of these—those two trees have amazing, unusual apples. So that. One is a variety and the other is not, so if we could come up with a new variety for our orchard, that would be very exciting. That was something my dad always dreamed of. My dad had an orchard. That was his dream. That he was going to find some new variety that he could name.
Lori: Yeah. It is fun. Even for someone like me, who doesn’t know anything. I started volunteering for City Fruit in the spring, really excited, right on through July, and then had a lull in energy in August. And then September came and suddenly I was going to orchards and people were handing me apples to taste. It was just so fun!
Lori: It activates a whole other part of you. If you like to cook. If you like to can, home can things. And getting all the new apples, every time I showed up a new apple was put in front of me.
Barb: And what do you do with it? And what is it best for?
Lori: And getting to introduce my friends and family to apples they’d never heard of, or seen.
Barb: Mmm, hmm.
Lori: Those bright red little apples that Craig gave me with the bright white inside, just off the tree!
Barb: We had some like that too. They’re pretty good. We had the most volume of those, 8 boxes. They disappointed me over time. They’re really good at first, and they’re ok keepers, but they don’t knock your socks off with tartness, like this one tree is. Oh yeah. That one’s really been great because it’s so prolific and productive, so it’s good but it’s not amazing like these two others are.
And they vary. I was talking to Lori Brakken, she did some ID’ing. And Bob Norton, he did some of the ID’ing of the apples from some of our trees plus the big one at the John Stafford school. I mean, it’s a really sad tree– it’s got scab, in a terrible location–but it tastes like champagne! I mean, or like a chardonnay or something, it’s amazingly complex. And Bob was just blown away, which I thought “This is very cool, if Bob Norton thinks this is great!” So I still had some left to ID, and Lori was doing that for us. They all turned out to be seedlings, not an identifiable variety. And she said it varies with these seedlings. They vary from year to year and you have to see how consistent they are. I mean, I’m not used to that!
Barb: Yeah, because some were so grim. I mean they just had no flavor, and then you wonder, it’s like, well, are they going to be better this year? And then what does that mean?
Lori: And they’ve only had a little bit of love.
Barb: You were talking about trying different apples. We got some really tart ones, and then the ones from the school, at a school Move-A-Thon they do every October. So the kids are running, walking, biking right by three of our trees. We had a little table where we offered samples of our apples, and the kids were loving it. They just thought that was the coolest thing. They especially liked the apples that made them pucker up.
Lori: It’s fun to see adults kind of act like little kids. I noticed that at the cider tasting along the trail too. It’s interesting to watch. Some people are just too busy to even stop. And those that do are amazed. What, it’s free?! That is a strength of being a trail orchard. So many people coming through.
Barb: Oh yeah. On a nice day. Yeah. It’s getting them to slow down. Some signage would be nice. Getting people to stop and investigate the tree. We don’t have that, other than when we’re out there.
Barb: Well, maybe that’s it right there. Signage has not been a big request for us compared to the other orchards. It would be really nice to get something, like what you were talking about, something that has a digital component to it too. And something that can’t be easily taken away. Picked up and run off with. But something like a self-guided tour would be nice, because, as you say, there are so many people that are there. It would just be great if they could stop.
Lori: I’m hearing more about walking tours everywhere I go.
Barb: And to tie in with cideries! There’s a lot of that too. The home brewed cider, which most, at least the people that I know, don’t know anything about cider. Or like my husband, who doesn’t even think he’d like it! And beer, we all love beer, but that whole thing. And having it local. And the local foods.
That’s another thing, another dream is to have some tie of Burke-Gilman apples to a local food company. Gelato or Mighty O Donuts or fritters… So that’s, we’re working on that. I need to do more leg work before harvest. That’s what would be really nice. That one tree would generate enough volume that it would be of interest to a bigger company.
Barb: Well, we might have that walking tour, but we don’t have any signage. [we giggle together]
But I would like to pursue the food/apple connection. Are you invited to that City Fruit thing next week? That will be some of our cider from our apples, Paul Brookshire, so that’ll be interesting. And Don Ricks talks about drying apples. But I just want to be able to find a use for all these apples and goodies. Promote that. Sell that. Besides the fresh. Because a lot of these apples are not good for fresh, so you have to have other ways to really promote that this is food, and we can do a lot with that as a community.
We’re also going to do some grafting. So that’s the first time. I’d really like to take these two amazing trees and get them grafted to other, better locations. I’ll know more tomorrow if the Parks gardener is in favor of doing that, it’s almost right in front of my house, which I can keep an eye on it. But to get some other trees, or expand the better apples. We do have some problem apples, with the pest management protocol we’re working on. If we’ll be able to improve the health of some of the trees. It’s not bugs so much, it’s scab. It’s really kind of discouraging. Because we’ve done everything we can, and still the scab is so bad. I guess this is the year to see if they make it. Or we need to do something else to move them to a level where they have quality fruit. It varies so much. Some are good but others are just not in the right place, not the right variety, they’re old trees in the wrong place.
Lori: Thanks for your time Barb. And thanks for some of the questions Gail!
Three years ago you couldn’t see the fruit trees nestled at the bottom of a hill just west of the old Amazon headquarters on north Beacon Hill. Looking down, it was blackberries and brambles. This neglected piece of Dr. Jose Rizal Park caught the eye of Craig Thompson, who was working with the Green Seattle Partnership and others to remove invasives from the adjoining woods. Craig turned his attention to the apples.
This October, three years later, the orchard produced 500 pounds of apples of several varieties. Neighbors and stewards picked 300 pounds for a cider pressing to benefit the Rainier Valley Pre-school. Don Ricks, who has been working on heritage orchards in several Seattle parks, says that the Dr. Jose Rizal Park orchard has turned around faster than any he has seen.
In recognition of Craig’s leadership in turning an unsightly bramble patch into a productive orchard, he has been selected to receive a 2012 Denny Award by the Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Christopher Williams. Denny Awards recognize individuals who provide ‘leadership in enhancing and preserving parks. . . ‘ and demonstrate ‘ . . significant personal commitment of time and effort . . . ‘. Craig will be honored at a free dinner, open to the public, at Langston Hughes Community Center on Nov 29 (6 – 8 pm.)
As one of City Fruit’s orchard steward leads, Craig attended workshops on fruit tree care and recruited a team of stewards dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal Park. His reach into the greater community is extensive: Craig brought large workparties of Filipino-American students, Earthcorps, Safeco and Fred Hutchinson volunteers, and students from Seattle Pacific, and he has collaborated closely with Parks Department staff to clear, prune, mulch, fence and harvest the orchard.
I’m Lori. You’ve likely seen me asking questions and taking pictures anywhere orchard stewards are gathering. I’m a community story wrangler and a City Fruit volunteer. All the photos I gather live here, a testament to the amazing people who care for Seattle’s fruit and nut trees: http://seattleorchardstewards.tumblr.com/.
Gail asked me to start blogging once a season for City Fruit to summarize what’s been happening across the Seattle orchard steward world and to eventually tell longer orchard steward stories. Grateful for the chance to do so. First up, harvest season. Yay!
I’d never been to the North end’s Carkeek Park, or to Piper orchard within, in my 20 years in Seattle. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this amazing place. What the heck have I been doing with my time?!
After months of hot weather and no rain, by mid September the rest of Seattle was crisp (and many of us gardeners more than a bit cranky about it). So walking through the densely forested park–with it’s self-created humidity and damp, earthy smell–up a steep hill to the festival site was pure delight. I’d been sick that week, and I swear this walk healed me.
We drank fresh-pressed cider and ate a slice of apple pie. Then, 20 minutes later, after the pie contest winners were announced, we had a couple more pieces of the award-winning pies for good measure. That was the polite thing to do, right? That is the lie one tells oneself at slice #3.
We talked to Gail who was sharing plums and information with passersby from the City Fruit table. We listened as indentification experts helped people identify their apples and, for a few, their pests.
These trees sit up above the tennis center of the same name just up the hill from MLK Jr Way South, a few blocks south of I-90, and a long stone’s throw from Bradner Gardens. This was an especially fun harvest for me, because the work party was a large group from PopCap Games–the creators of the world’s best iPad game (in my humble opinion) Plants vs. Zombies, a game in which you defend your home from silly cartoon zombies via strategic and savvy gardening. Genius! And I got to meet one of the creators of the game! Ah, life was good.
I’d heard from other orchard stewards that the PopCap Games folks were fantastic work party folks, and they proved that rumor true. They cleared blackberries and brush, mulched around trees, and then harvested apples like they were in a World’s Best Harvester’s competition. So much energy! They were a lean, mean, harvesting machine, and a joy to watch as they came up with a myriad of ways to harvest: from small group approaches with the apple catcher sticks to traditional ladder work to climbing up into the trees themselves. Gail brought them a huge, gorgeous plate of sliced fruit from other area harvests. Um, yeah, I hope that was for the story gatherer too. Delicious!
The Slow Food work party was going strong by the time we got there. They were working thoughtfully, steadily, chatting, and laughing the whole time. Manifesting the spirit of their organization, I thought. They were so much fun to be with.
I got to meet Barb’s sister Jan, who’d come to Seattle to help out. This was hard manual labor: digging into rocky soil, digging out huge old roots, and with the Burke-Gilman traffic whizzing by their ears all the while.
Not sure I’d be able to get my sister to do the work, let alone be happy to be there.
Amazingness clearly runs in this family.
You hike down a steep, and sometimes slippery, hillside to get to the orchard. And it’s worth the journey. The amount of work that it’s taken to clear the hillside, and liberate the fruit trees from the jungle-like conditions, is apparent. Somebody has devoted many, many years to this still-coming-back-to-full-life orchard. After being stunned into silence by the beautiful view of downtown, my first thought was “How the heck do they get a wheelbarrow down here?”
Craig and company were harvesting perfect little winesap apples, with an amazing view of downtown Seattle and the happy sounds of the adjacent off-leash dog park wafting up at them. And he gave me a few to try. What a treat! I look forward to getting back and hearing Craig’s stories in depth! As it was, I couldn’t stay long because I was on my way to West Seattle…
Also great to finally see a cider press in action (at Piper, they’d finished pressing before we arrived).
Betsy filled our growler for us, we bought some plum jam from Gail, and then we watched the cider pressers do their thing.
The cider press seems like a tool designed to foster community as much as to make cider.
Old wisdom and damn good design, in my opinion.
And the weather was warm and sunny and perfect.
Life was good in West Seattle.
Jim invited us to the harvest and cider pressing event at Martha Washington orchard a few weeks later.
True Seattle fall decided to show up in full force this day, drenching us and teaching me that rain and my camera will never be the best of friends. As a gardener, though, I reveled in the rain after so many months of nothing. Yay rain!
Jim and company had thought ahead, and brought portable stoves, so we had hot cider to warm us from the chilly fall rain.
We learned that we were on the site of an former wayward girl’s school: the old trees, school trees. The beautiful colors of the umbrellas and clothes that the kid helper/harvesters were wearing leant an air of whimsey and magic to the very wet day. The rain-fuzzy images in my camera calling to mind the ghosts of those who came before us.
Is it any wonder I like to be in orchards. Seems like magic always finds me there. Thanks for the invite Jim. Great cider!
Last Sunday I joined Barb and company again at Burke-Gilman–this time in the shadow of the ship cannel bridge–for their cider pressing event. The I-could-rain-any-minute sky cooperated nicely and gave mostly sun breaks to the 3+ hour event. Barb had invited some traditional dancers to bring good fortune to the harvest and make the cider taste better: I think they helped with the weather too.
Amanda from Solid Ground and Burke-Gilman steward Harriet were expertly working the cider press and encouraging those who came by on the trail to take a turn. I worked the press long enough that it was clearly an upper-body workout, which meant I could skip the gym, which was nice. But seriously, it was amazing to get a chance to use the press and to watch people of all ages do so as well.
We did free cider tastings of different blends and also one-kind varieties of cider. Other stewards sorted apples into “cider” and “eating” boxes and multched around nearby trees. Barb’s son and his buddy manned the information booth and proved themselves to be fantastic fundraisers beside the donation bucket. Such a fun day. ANd I came home with yet another growler of cider, which I’m sipping right now. So. Freakin. Good.
Happy fall, my friends!
You can find more photos and stories of Burke-Gilman events on the Burke-Gilman Urban Orchard Stewards Facebook page, and more photos of all these events at the Seattle Orchard Stewards blog. . If your orchard steward event wasn’t mentioned, invite me to the next one! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As autumn persists, the urge to be outside pressing fragrant fruit into hearty cider has kept our Correll press busy. Here Hunt Towler and David Beeman press more than 1,000 pounds of apples at the West Seattle Nursery pressing, where it seemed like half of West Seattle brought in apples to squeeze on Sept 27. (For more photos, go to Tumblr.) This was followed by a trip to the Holy Cross Church Orchard in Bellevue on Oct 6 and last weekend’s visit to Beacon Hill, where the Rainier Valley Cooperative PreSchool rallied the troops on a blustery autumn day. There’s nothing quite like watching apples become liquified.
Next up (details on our Events page): Freeway Estates Community Cider Fest, Oct 20, 2 – 5; Burke Gilman Trail orchard stewards cider pressing on Sunday, Oct 21, 12 – 3; City Fruit’s cider pressing benefit for the Greenwood Food Bank, Oct 27, noon – 4; and City Fruit’s 2nd Annual Hard Cider Taste Nov 1, 5 – 8 pm.
A note about our press. Our Correll press is a wooden press with an electric motor to drive the grinder portion; the press itself is manual. It was handbuilt by a gentleman in Oregon, and in 2009 we had to wait four months after putting in our order: there were more than 50 presses ahead of us in line. Last weekend I attended an apple tasting/cider pressing event in Portland and saw a twenty-four year old Correll press in action. It didn’t look much different from our two-year-old press and was still going strong.
herbivoracious . Chef, blogger and author Michael Natkin writes: “I don’t care if you are a vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore, vegan, pescetarian, or flexitarian! Labels don’t matter. If you want to eat a meatless meal tonight, I want to make sure it is hearty, beautiful, and absolutely delicious.” I bought his cookbook – I couldn’t resist. herbivoracious makes you want to rush into the kitchen and get started. NPR and Amazon voted it one of the 10 best cookbooks in 2012. Michael is supporting City Fruit by donating $5 to us for every cookbook he sells online. Buy it here.
In addition to encouraging and educating home owners to take care of their own trees, the Fruit Tree Stewards have done a great job making sure that trees within parks and other urban orchards are protected. One example of that is the Burke-Gilman Fruit Tree Stewards (did you know fruit trees were along the Burke-Gilman trail?) — they’ve been super active caring for the fruit trees along the trail and most recently applied a bunch of bags on the low-hanging fruit on some trees. And using some footies City Fruit is supplying, they’re in the process of finishing off the trees by adding additional footies to the fruit higher up.
Their work is turning these previously neglected trees into productive, healthy trees that produce tasty, beautiful fruit.
Interested in learning more about how to apply footies or bags to your fruit trees to help keep pests away? Check out this video from our resident fruit tree expert, Don Ricks. As you can see it’s super simple.
When: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Santoro’s Books, 7405 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103
Edible Seattle editor Jill Lightner will be on hand to sign copies of the magazine’s newly released cookbook, featuring regional ingredients and recipes from local chefs. Drinks and small bites will be provided. Stay tuned for news of other goodies and giveaways.
15% of all book sales during the event will go to City Fruit in support of our 2012 summer harvest and other programs. And special thanks to Snoqualmie Winery for their generous donation of wine.
Hope to see you there!
Starting in 2012, joining City Fruit will not only make you feel great for supporting a worthy cause — it will also save you money. City People’s Garden Store, Swanson’s Nursery, and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream are offering discounts (and free cones!) to people who join or renew their City Fruit memberships in 2012.
Join now to get these great deals! An individual membership is just $30 and a household membership is just $50. Your important contribution helps us continue to collect thousands of pounds of fruit each summer that helps feed low-income people in our community.
(We post our monthly email newsletter, with tips about fruit tree care, notes about happenings in the area and updates about City Fruit, to the blog but if you want it delivered directly to your inbox, please email email@example.com.)
Fruit tree tip: Pick up your fallen fruit. Experts say that the single most important thing you can do to prevent pests next year is to remove fallen fruit (and leaves). Pests in the fruit overwinter beneath the tree, just waiting to create problems next season. Rake it up and put it in your yard waste (not your compost pile).
New grant supports Rainier Valley fruit trees: We have a new grant to help the Rainier Valley community plant and care for fruit trees. If you have a public (e.g., school, senior center, city street, park, public housing, etc.) site or an ‘institutional’ space (senior living facility, business or office site, etc.) in the Rainier Valley that could support fruit trees or berry bushes, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Rainier Valley Eats (RaVE) program, supported by the United Way of King County, recognizes that fruit plays a significant role in urban food production and is helping us grow more — and more appropriate — fruits in south Seattle.
2011 Harvest Summary: We harvested more than 7,000 lbs of fruit in the Phinney-Greenwood corridor and in south Seattle neighborhoods. Again this year, plums — our major ‘crop’ — were light, so we worked hard to compensate with apples, cherries, grapes, figs and even quince. Crop diversity is important, since fruit production is closely related to fickle spring weather: while there were few plums, 2011 was a bumper year for figs. More than 25 different organizations received fruit: they include women’s shelters, senior centers, food banks, meals programs, daycares, community centers and youth programs.
While our per pound cost to harvest fruit goes down each year due to increased efficiency, harvesting in an urban environment is still expensive — this year about $1.00/lb. We funded the 2011 harvest by selling a small portion of the fruit to restaurants, by a grant from Puget Sound Energy and through City Fruit memberships and donations. In other words, by becoming a member of City Fruit, you will directly support next year’s harvest.
Hard Cider Making workshop: Speaking of hard cider, check out the week-long seminar on “Cider Marking: Principles and Practices” Dec 12 – 16 in Mt. Vernon. International cider expert (from England) Peter Mitchell will cover hands-on cider-making techniques and give an overview of the market. The seminar is sponsored by the NW Agricultural Business Center and the WSU NW Research and Extension Center in Mt Vernon. Register at NABC website or contact Ann Leason at 360-336-3727.
New fruit growing book: From Tree to Table: Growing Backyard fruit Trees in the Pacific Maritime Climate by Barbara Edwards and Mary Olivella states on the back cover: “Plant a fruit tree — join the revolution.” It goes on: “This charming and easy-to-use guide dispels the myth that local gardeners in our sun-challenged, maritime Pacific climes can’t grow fruit trees.” (My own local fruit expert says the advice in the book is right on.) In addition, there are great recipes, from preserves to fruit-based main dishes to how to make pear perry. If you buy the book from City Fruit, the publisher shares the proceeds with us — so don’t delay! Cost is $18.95. Contact us at email@example.com .
Okay, take care and have a great Thanksgiving!
Every year, just when we think the harvest has ended, we get a call about a major harvest. This time, it was for grapes. A new homeowner discovered that the entire back fence of her yard is covered in grape vines. After giving tons away to her neighbors and picking more than she could eat by herself, she heard about City Fruit.
Two volunteers picked over 100 pounds of grapes from this Seattle back yard!
People in Seattle tend to think we don’t have the climate for grapes, but it’s clear we do. I planted Canadice grapes in my yard two years ago and am looking forward to getting grapes next year. Variety is important–it’s best to choose varieties that ripen early. That’s your best chance for a harvest in Seattle. Ask at your favorite nursery or fruit tree specialist store for recommendations.
We have lots going on in October! If you don’t get our monthly newsletter, here’s what’s happening:
We’re very excited to invite you to the City Fruit Hard Cider Tasting in Pioneer Square on Thursday, Nov 3 (it’s also Art Walk night). Alpenfire, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Snowdrift and Tieton Cider Works will bring their Washington-made craft ciders and pearies. You can taste the ciders, meet the producers and buy some cider to take home. The Northwest Sustainability Collaborative and Northwest Cider Association are our partners. Proceeds from the event benefit City Fruit’s 2012 fruit harvest.
Thursday, Nov 3. 5 – 8 pm. 314 1st Ave So, Seattle (just down the block from the former location of Elliott Bay Books)
Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets or at the door.
Quince class this Saturday
Next up in our Beyond the Canning Jar cooking series is “Demystifying Quince” with culinary celebrity Amy Pennington. Chefs love quince, but the rest of us don’t know what to do with this exquisite fruit. Amy will teach you how to make quince jam and quince paste — yum– on Saturday, Oct 8, 10 am – noon at Dish It Up! in Ballard. Amy’s last book will also be available. Register online or mail a check to City Fruit.
Following on the next three Saturdays are: Shrubs (ancient drinking vinegars) Oct 15; Fruits – from Appetizer to Dessert, Oct 22; and Poaching, Roasting and Braising Fruit, Oct 29. We greatly appreciate the support of our partners, Dish It Up! in Ballard and The Pantry at Delancey — and hope you support them too.
Harvest festivals galore
Our five orchard steward groups are holding get togethers this fall to introduce neighbors to their urban orchards. On Sept 25 the five Ladies with Loppers and Ladders pressed apples into cider under a red tent along the Burke-Gilman Trail, as cyclists and joggers stopped to have a sip and the wind threatened to blow everything away. (Did you know there are apple trees along the Trail?) Then last Sunday the Martha Washington crew gathered more than 60 neighbors at the small park cum orchard on the lake where, again, cider was pressed, cupcakes eaten, and talk revolved around the history of the park and its old apple trees. Coming up: Meadowbrook Harvest Party Oct 7 (6 pm), Beacon Hill Harvest Festival with the Jose Rizal orchard stewards on Oct 22 ( 1 – 9 pm), and the Bradner Gardens Harvest on Oct 30 (2 – 4 pm).
Orchard stewards expanding
Our second grant from the Department of Natural Resources allows us to expand the orchard stewards project to three additional Seattle Parks. Several parks have applied, and we will be meeting on Oct 29, 10:30 – noon, at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center. Anyone interested in knowing more about the project is welcome.
2011 fruit harvest
The harvest is winding down — wait! apples and grapes are still out there — and we have harvested more than 6000 pounds of fruit in a year we had feared would be worse. A full report on the harvest will come next month, but meanwhile, we will be glad to harvest grapes, apples and quince, so let us know. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Oct 6 Holy Cross orchard Meaningful Movie: Good Food. Contact Farness, Janet email@example.com
Oct 7 Meadowbrook Harvest Party, 6 pm. Meadowbrook Community Center
Oct 8 Demystifying Quince cooking class with Amy Pennington, 10 am – noon, Dish It Up! in Ballard
Oct 8 Prune Fruit Trees class, Seattle Tilth, 10 am – noon
Oct 15 Shrubs cooking class with Patricia Eddy, 10 am – noon
Oct 22 Fruit – from Appetizer to Dessert cooking class with Roxanne Vierra, 10 am – noon
Oct 22 Beacon Hill Harvest Festival, 1 – 9 pm, Garden House on Beacon Hill
Oct 23 Seattle Tree Fruit Society Fall Show, 10 am – 3 pm, Cedar Valley Grange
Oct 29 Poaching, Braising and Roasting fruit cooking class with Laurie Pfalzer, 10 am – noon
Oct 29 City Fruit orchard steward kick off meeting, 10:30 am – noon, Ravenna Eckstein Community Center
Oct 30 Bradner Gardens Harvest Festival, 2 – 4 pm, Bradner Gardens
Please join City Fruit. We depend on your memberships and support to fund our harvests, and we’re planning for next year now. And remember to friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and read our Blog