Posts Tagged ‘City Fruit’

Dec10

Fruit-Filled Recipe: Introduction to Shrubs

City Fruit continues our holiday recipe blog series with a focus on shrubs! Our partner, Slow Food Seattle, shares our mission of preserving and protecting local foods. Make use of your apples this season with shrubs!

Apple Shrub

Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, might not seem immediately appealing to the unfamiliar, but these tart syrups consisting of fruit, vinegar and sugar have a lot to offer.

For one, they’re a creative way to add the tang of acid to a cocktail in place of the usual lemon or lime flavors. For another, mixed only with soda water, they’re a sophisticated, less-sweet non-alcoholic beverage option.

And of course, they serve a utilitarian, workhorse purpose that fits the syrup’s thrifty origins: the vinegar helps preserve and extend the life of the fruit used in the shrub. So they are great at capturing the flavors of seasonal produce.

Shrubs are part of Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.” On the tradition of fruit shrubs, the Ark of Taste entry describes:

Shrub is a colonial-day drink whose name is derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar, and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a refreshing drink that is simultaneously tart and sweet. In the nineteenth-century, the drink was often spiked brandy or rum.

Ubiquitous in colonial times, the use of shrubs as a flavoring for tonic and sodas subsided with increasing industrial production of foods. The entire shrub market was practically ceased until the Tait family in Pennsylvania revived the drink.

Considering the popularity of shrubs in the cocktail community in recent years, it seems we can consider the revival a success!

To help spread the word about the appeal of the shrub, Slow Food recently teamed up with Anu Apte and Courtney Matzke of Rob Roy and Swig Well for a class on how to make shrubs and use them in cocktails. We’re happy to share a couple recipes from the class that feature this season’s fruit superstar: the apple. First, the recipe to make the shrub itself, then a punch you can use it in for holiday entertaining. You’ll find these recipes posted on City Fruit’s site tomorrow!

If this is your first time making a shrub, know that the process is very forgiving and quite open to experimentation. A general good guideline is one part fruit to one part vinegar to one part sugar, but as you can see in the apple shrub recipe, sometimes you might reduce the amount of vinegar or sugar depending on how sweet/tart your produce is. Your taste buds will be your guide!

Leslie Seaton serves on Slow Food Seattle’s board of directors. Check out her post tomorrow with two apple shrub recipes to get you started!

Dec02

#GivingTuesday: Why We Partner with City Fruit

GTWe love City Fruit! We each seek to give back to the Seattle community by making our members better gardeners and stewards of their edibles. Each year, City People’s Garden Store and City Fruit cohost the “Second Sunday & Some Saturdays Series” of workshops, which we offer free to the public. City Fruit finds instructors passionate about fruit trees and gardening in general, and the Garden Store hosts. The workshops range from Growing Figs to Protecting Pollinators, and this year we had our first Cider Making Event, which we hope to make an annual occurrence!

Each winter, as we receive our first bare root fruit in early February, City Fruit helps us brush off the frost and start the gardening season with enthusiasm, offering information on how to successfully grow bare root fruit and directing potential gardeners to our store. In return, we give a portion of our sales of winter fruit trees and bare root shrubs to City Fruit. Always a willing partner, the folks at City Fruit are wonderful to work with, and we admire all that they do. Please consider a donation to City Fruit today in the spirit of #GivingTuesday!

And be sure to check out the 2015 lineup of workshops (exact dates to be determined).

Kyra Butzel is with City People’s Garden Store in Seattle.

Dec02

#GivingTuesday: Why I Harvest for City Fruit

GT3I support City Fruit wholeheartedly because they utilize food that would otherwise go to waste and share it with those who are less fortunate. City Fruit brings neighborhoods and communities together, emphasizing proper tree care, food justice, and civic engagement. Our supporters generously donate funds, volunteer hours, and even the fruit they grow on their own property.

For me, working with City Fruit is an opportunity to give back to the city that has given me so much and shaped the man I am today. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to harvest local fruit, donate it to the nearest food bank/youth program/senior center, and give a person in need the bounty of freshly-picked fruit. Many food banks can only offer processed food, so every bit of fresh produce we at City Fruit can give makes a difference not just in the amount of food a person has access to, but also the nutritional value of that food.

The majority of fruit we harvest comes from the yards of generous tree owners. To maximize our 2015 harvest, we need more of Seattle’s tree owners involved, both through fruit donations and monetary support. On this #GivingTuesday, I am calling on all fruit tree owners to donate what you can to the 2015 harvest, and, if you haven’t already, register your tree(s) for gleaning by e-mailing info@cityfruit.org!

Thank you for supporting our organization. I hope to see you out there in the trees!

Dusty Towler is City Fruit’s West Seattle harvester.  He just completed his third season with the organization.

Dec02

#GivingTuesday: Why City Fruit Inspires My Work

FB IconI first noticed apple blossoms peeking out from blackberry vines along the Burke-Gilman Trail in 2008. I’ve been rehabilitating public fruit trees ever since. I started volunteering with City Fruit around that time, and about a year ago became the organization’s orchard steward coordinator. Now I support volunteer stewards and their fruit tree care efforts in public orchards all over the city.

Our tree care regimen is strictly organic, without sprays or chemical fertilizers. The care takes just a few hours per tree each season, but we need many helping hands. City Fruit staff members are trained to harness the energy of hundreds of volunteers, coordinate care with Seattle Parks gardeners, and harvest and deliver fruit into Seattle’s emergency food system.

In 2014, our stewarded orchards yielded 6,000 pounds of fresh, organic fruit suitable for donation. We hope to grow, harvest, and donate even more orchard fruit in 2015, but we need your help! We work in the orchards year-round and welcome as many volunteers as we can handle. Come on your own or with a group from work, school, or the neighborhood. Check the City Fruit calendar for 2015 work parties or email natalie@cityfruit.org to schedule a custom work party. And please, on this #GivingTuesday, donate what you can to help City Fruit continue to grow!

Barb Burrill is City Fruit’s orchard stewards coordinator.

Dec02

#GivingTuesday: Why I Founded City Fruit

GTUntil May 2014 I was the founding director of City Fruit. But that is not the reason City Fruit is at the top of my list when it comes time to donate. This is why:

A few years ago I spoke about City Fruit to a group of English-as-a Second-Language students, all of them immigrants. None of them understood why City Fruit existed. No one came from a place—not Europe, not Asia, not South America or Africa—where fruit growing in the neighborhood was allowed to fall and rot. “How could this happen?” they asked.

I didn’t know what to say. It was embarrassing. While a society with hungry people has a problem, a society that lets food go to waste in the face of that hunger has an even bigger problem. City Fruit works on many fronts to address this conundrum. It picks unused fruit and donates it to people who are hungry–28,000 pounds in 2014 alone. It teaches people about the value of their fruit and how to care for their trees. It reminds policymakers that urban fruit – and fruit trees – are a community resource. And it cares for fruit trees in our public spaces.

My donation to City Fruit pays dividends that I can see, feel, taste and smell: boxes and boxes of fresh produce delivered to food banks, shelters, daycares and senior centers. Clean sidewalks. Healthy trees. Civic pride. Please join me in making a clear difference in a simple way: Become a member of City Fruit by donating $50 (or more!) today.

Gail Savina is the founder of City Fruit and currently serves as a senior advisor to the organization. 

Nov23

Out in the Orchard: A Good Time to Plant a Tree

It’s November. You’ve harvested the fruit from your trees, BGT March 22 work party 2cleaned up fallen fruit, raked up diseased leaves, and spread mulch up to the dripline. What to do now? Plant a tree!

November is the best month to plant trees in our climate. Plant a tree in the spring, and unless you are really disciplined about watering, the dry summer months will stress your tree when it is trying to get established. Plant in November, and the rains take care of watering duties. Plus with our mild fall and winter, roots of the trees can even continue growing once they are planted, whenever the soil temperature is above 50 degrees.

A problem with this plan, though, is that most nurseries are not selling fruit trees in November.

City Fruit has a few fruit trees and edible perennials that are ready to plant now. Sign up using the online form. A small donation per plant is requested.

Some small local nurseries such asCal watering quince Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska and Hartman’s Nursery in Puyallup may have fruit trees you can buy for planting now. Burnt Ridge sells trees at The Farmers Market of Olympia, open Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 3 through December. Contact small nurseries to confirm their fruit tree inventory before you take a road trip.

To get the most fruit production from your trees, buy two or more trees that can pollinize each other.

Location is crucial. The more sun the better – full sun is best. Leave enough room for the tree so it can grow to its ultimate mature size. You don’t want to be moving that tree again in a few years.

Once you are ready to get your trees in the ground, refer to City Fruit’s on-line resource document on How to Plant a Fruit Tree.

Good luck! Send us a photo of your new trees at info@cityfruit.org

Barb Burrill is City Fruit’s orchard steward coordinator. 

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.

 

Nov07

Oh What a Night

When thinking about last night I just keep humming the brief refrain “Oh what a night”. The rest of the Four Season’s song doesn’t really apply but, ciderglassoh what a night. 250 (Two. Hundred. Fifty) City Fruit members, supporters, and cider fans came out to the Palace Ballroom in Downtown Seattle for City Fruit’s 4th Annual Cider Taste.

Mind. Blown.

While there folks sampled some amazing ciders from Schilling Cider, Seattle Cider Company, Dragon’s Head Cider, Finnriver, Nashi Orchards, Whitewood Cider, Alpenfire Cider, Snowdrift Cider Company, and Tieton Cider Works and snacked on small bites courtesy of Tom Douglas Restaurants. Everyone who attended also received a small souvenir glass courtesy of Capitol Cider.

shroom1In addition to the cider tastes, attendees were able to shop our marketplace and buy products from local companies, such as Glassybaby and Ballard Bee Company, and meet the authors of the books “Shroom“, “Good Fish“, and “Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard“.

Seeing the Palace Ballroom packed with people was the perfect way to celebrate the end of our record breaking 2014 harvest and kick off our fundraising and planning for 2015. This year we expanded to two new neighborhoods (Ballard and Wallingford) and harvested an incredible 25,000+ pounds of fruit (that’s almost 13 tons or more than the weight of two Asian elephants) that went to social organizations who helped put that fruit into the hands of those in need.

To say last night was our most cider2asuccessful Cider Taste to date would be an understatement. Not just in terms of attendance (did I mention 250 people were there?) and the number of cideries but also in the amount of money we were able to raise. Thanks to the generosity of those in attendance and sponsors like GLY Construction we raised $17,500, which goes a long way towards helping fund our 2015 harvest.

Last night was just AWESOME. It really inspired all of us to keep moving forward with the work we’re doing and we’re already starting to think about next year’s event (yes, we heard you, we’ll have more food). Everything we do, whether it’s this event or our harvest or our classes or any of our other programs, is possible because of your support so THANK YOU for cider1bcoming out and showing us you believe in what we’re doing. I know it can be a little bit of a cliché but it’s very true when I say we wouldn’t be here without all of you.

If you weren’t able to join us at the Cider Taste last night and would like to show your support for the 2015 harvest, you can make a donation here. Every dollar helps in fulfilling our mission to harvest the unused fruit growing in Seattle and to use it to help feed those who would otherwise not have access to high quality, fresh fruit.

Thank you again for your support of City Fruit, not just last night but over these many months and years. Here’s to 2015 being an even bigger year. Let’s harvest another elephant!

Whether or not you could attend you can relive (or experience) the evening via pictures and posts on social media.

Support City Fruit’s 2015 harvest with an online gift at http://www.cityfruit.org/join.

Larry Liang is president of City Fruit’s board of directors. 

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

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

Oct14

City Fruit Receives Funding from Wallingford Community Council

The Wallingford Community Council has awarded City Fruit a grant of $5,000 to help support the care and maintenance of fruit trees located at Meridian Playground and along the Burke-Gilman Trail. This funding is made possible by the neighborhood’s participation in the Waste Management Think Green Recycling Challenge.

Specifically, City Fruit will use the funding to engage in a large-scale effort to prevent pests from destroying fruit on the trees in Meridian Playground and the Good Shepherd Center orchard. This is the first year City Fruit has stewarded the park, harvesting over 2,000 pounds of fruit for donation to food banks and cleaning up another 7,000 pounds of fallen fruit.

Additionally, City Fruit will use the Wallingford Community Council grant to increase the number of natural pollinators in the neighborhood through the introduction of mason bees and native plants. Pollinators are essential to the production of fruit.

City Fruit thanks Jim Fryett, President of the the Wallingford Community Council for his leadership, Lee Raeen for coordinating the grant process, and the full Council for their support of the organization’s mission and these important projects.

 

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!

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!

Aug14

New to Fruit Trees – Summer Pruning

Pruning copyThis past weekend, I attended City Fruit’s second Sunday series at City People’s Garden Store on summer pruning with Bill Wanless.  The class was packed – over 30 attendees! Clearly, this is a topic of interest.

While my plum tree is too young for summer pruning, here are some tips and tricks to help promote growth and fruit production.

August is the best time for summer pruning. We prune fruit trees in the summer to improve the health of the tree, protect against pests and fungal disease, and produce more fruit or flowers. To make room for more sun and air, consider these cuts during summer pruning:

  • Cutting back new shoots that crowd the larger, more established branches,
  • Removing dead and broken branches,
  • Removing all suckers — branches that are growing from the base of the tree

Don’t prune too much – no more than a quarter of the total leaf surface in any one year. And don’t try to fix a tree in one year; if the tree needs a lot of work, do it over several years. For more guidance, check out this City Fruit video with Ciscoe Morris and Kristen Ramer Liang or this resource sheet.

Catherine Morrison is executive director of City Fruit and new to fruit trees. She planted her first tree, a Hollywood plum, earlier this year.  

Jun26

The cherries are coming!

photo (1)In my opening New to Fruit Trees blog, I said I was disappointed not to find a single fruit tree in my yard after moving to Seattle from Washington, DC. Not so fast. Let’s call this my second #fruitfail.  Not one, or two, but five — I have five cherry trees in my yard.  Seattle is truly an urban orchard. (To be fair, at the time, no cherries were growing!)

For help identifying our trees, I was able to call on one of City Fruit’s many experts. Laila Suidan, a trained arborist, taught me about each type of tree (and plant) in our yard and provided instruction on care and maintenance. Among other things, she taught me that many fruit trees, including cherry trees, have identifying lenticels on their bark.

City Fruit will soon launch a set of residential services, including connection to experts that can help identify and assess your fruit trees and assist in tree care and management. If you’re interested, please email info@cityfruit.org and we’ll send you more information. 

I’m looking forward to our first harvest of cherries this week! If you aren’t lucky enough to have cherry trees in your backyard, make sure to sign up for Collins Orchards CSA. Deliveries started June 25th, but you can sign-up at anytime.  The first few weeks of the CSA will include Early Robin Rainier cherries.


 

City Fruit members receive a 10% discount on the CSA! Join City Fruit Today — members may request the discount code by email.


 

Catherine Morrison is the executive director of City Fruit.  Follow her blog series and send your New to Fruit Tree questions to info@cityfruit.org