Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

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 I Give to City Fruit

On this #GivingTuesday, there are so many worthy causes and organizations to support. So why choose City Fruit?

As a board member for the past three years, here are my reasons:

  • A little goes a long way. Did you know that even a $10 donation provides a week’s worth a fruit to a family of four? And $50 can feed a family for the entire harvest season!
  • Hunger relief is needed now more than ever. A recent Feeding America study reported that 1 in 7 King County residents lack regular access to adequate food. City Fruit helps provide these individuals with healthy produce they couldn’t otherwise afford.
  • Make a difference for your entire community. City Fruit’s work doesn’t stop at the end of harvest season. In addition to classes and online resources, we host work parties year-round, making Seattle’s public orchards safer and healthier for everyone.

Our 2014 harvest saved nearly 28,000 pounds of fresh, local fruit from waste and put it to its best use: feeding people! City Fruit has the will and skill to harvest even more fruit next year, but we can’t do it without your help.

This #GivingTuesday, please donate to City Fruit at whatever level you can give. Together, we can make a huge impact!

Kristen Ramer Liang is a City Fruit Board Member.

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. 

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.
Sep22

Welcome Brian to City Fruit!

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

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

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

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

Aug21

Meet City Fruit Ambassador, Phil!

Phil fruitselfie                 Philfruitselfie2

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

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

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

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

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

Jul15

Meet our Harvest Team!

Meet photo-2City Fruit’s 2014 Harvest Team! From left, Dusty Towler, who will be focusing on the West Seattle; Luke Jesperson, our Harvest Coordinator, who is working in the neighborhoods of South Seattle, including Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Mount Baker, and Rainier Beach; and Hamilton Anderson, who will harvest in North Seattle, including the neighborhoods of Ballard, Phinney/Greenwood, and Wallingford.

The harvesters will be out in their areas each weekday starting around 8:30am and collecting fruit until the early afternoon.  From there, the fresh and nutritious fruit will be delivered to food banks and meal programs in the same neighborhood.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for our annual harvest, fill out our quick tree survey here.

Jul09

Flexible Volunteer Opportunity: Become an Ambassador Today!

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jun18

Top Ten Reasons You Should Vote for City Fruit to Win $50,000!

There’s less than a week left to vote for City Fruit in Zipcar’s Communities with Drive program! We hope you’ve taken the time to help us win $50,000 and expand our urban harvest.  If you need a little more convincing, we have compiled a list of reasons to vote for us:

10.  Figs! You may not know it, but figs are a fruit grown throughout Seattle. Our annual gathering of figs helps sustain the harvest, as the fruit is too delicate for most food banks and we are able to sell them to partners like Tom Douglas Restaurants.

Fig

9. Apple cider. Each fall, we celebrate the apple harvest with a series of apple cider events in Seattle neighborhoods.  We also loan out our apple presses – one manual, one electric – to community organizations.  Tasty, delicious fresh apple cider? Yes, please!

8. Partners for a more sustainable future. We have a diverse range of partners that believe in the work we are doing and who help fund the harvest and our programming, including the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the King Conservation District.

7. Network of tree owners. With hundreds of residencies from around the Seattle area donating their trees to City Fruit, we help build communal solidarity through the idea that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy produce. Neighbors get to participate in the sharing economy and build a stronger sense of community.

6. 55,000 pounds of fruit.  Over the last five years, City Fruit has harvested over 55,000 pounds of fruit from Seattle neighborhoods. This year the harvest is taking place in five neighborhoods – Wallingford, Ballard, South Seattle, West Seattle, and Phinney-Greenwood. We hope to continue expanding to new areas with your support, harvesting more fruit and getting it to those in need.

5. Stewardship. We conserve and protect Seattle’s natural resources by encouraging organic tree care, reducing the amount of pesticides entering our streams and oceans, and providing a healthy environment for our precious pollinators. Many of our orchard sites were once overrun with blackberry vines and other invasives before stewards intervened. We’re working to preserve urban orchards for the next generation.

4. Dedicated and knowledgeable Orchard Stewards. We train and support a network of hardworking volunteers who are committed to caring for Seattle’s diverse urban orchards. This amazing group works year-round to care for fruit trees and share knowledge with the public.

3. Delivering fresh fruit to 50 programs and growing. During the harvest season, City Fruit donates fruit to local food banks, meal programs, senior centers, and daycares, among others.  We’ve reached over 50 programs in the last five years.

2. Amazing volunteers.  From orchard stewards, to local volunteers, to corporate partners, to our amazing and talented board of directors, our work would not be possible without community support from people like you.

1. Rescuing a local resource. We take wasted, unused fruit and make it available to the emergency food system. Food banks often struggle to provide fresh produce for their patrons, and fresh fruit is especially appreciated and valuable. We also find uses for fruit that isn’t fresh eating quality, such as fresh cider, hard cider, preserves, and dried fruit.

Jun17

Volunteer Spotlight: Dave Beeman Calls City Fruit His Wellness Plan

UntitledCity Fruit is my wellness plan 

The rewards of volunteering at City Fruit go both ways, reflects Dave Beeman, recipient of the (2014) Gail Savina Outstanding Service Award. Dave describes his volunteer work as highly satisfying: “it feels really good!” Volunteering for City Fruit is not only mentally rewarding, but also the physical activity of being outside in the sunshine, under a plum or pear tree, is the best kind of workout. Who needs a gym? “There’s no better feeling,” Dave says. And the positive feelings go two directions. With great excitement, community members served by City Fruit are known to encircle Dave, reaching into the crate for nutritious fruits even before he reaches the door of Seattle’s Food Banks.

From IT to music teacher to jack of all trades 

Dave is known around Seattle as a classical piano teacher. One of his life’s passions, Dave was able to return to teaching music after a 20-year hiatus working in computer science. Dave’s knowledge of IT and data systems have benefitted City Fruit. In addition to picking and delivering fruit, and doing “whatever Gail tells me,” Dave is the engineer behind City Fruit’s computer systems. Coordinating the harvest across 5 neighborhoods, multiple volunteers and staff, and hundreds of trees bearing a variety of fruits throughout the harvest season can be a complex undertaking. Dave’s IT skills have made this coordination run smoothly. Need to know when the apple season will begin? City Fruit’s records provide answers from previous years’ harvests. Where to send the next crop of plum pickers to harvest and deliver for the neighborhood food bank? Consult the database. Which of our partners want to buy figs? Let’s look that up!

It’s all about relationships 

Seattle is a city of orchards. We have an abundance of fruit, and much of it is REALLY GOOD fruit. Selling figs and up to 10% of other valuable fruit to local business partners has been a way to sustain City Fruit and underwrite the costs of running the organization. These relationships help make a strong organization, and they bring meaning to the volunteers who interface with City Fruit’s partners. Dave delivers sellable fruits to the kitchens of many of Seattle’s favorite chefs, often providing the story of the fruit’s origins and the people who picked it. Over the years, Dave has developed friendships with many of these partners, and his connections have landed him a tasty sweet treat here and there, such as a fig bar from Dahlia Bakery.

Many already know that Dave Beeman is married to founder and former executive director, Gail Savina. Among Dave’s many volunteer responsibilities, perhaps his most important contribution has been to serve as a sounding board and “listening to Gail” through the ins-and-outs of running a great organization. Now that Gail has moved on, she’s still suggesting ways for Dave to help City Fruit. Gail recently told Executive Director, Kate Morrison: “Need help picking fruit? Dave’ll be available.”

For Dave, volunteering for City Fruit is fulfilling. Harvest the unused fruit growing in the city, deliver the nutritious fruit to Seattle’s emergency food distribution, maintain the urban orchard and its database, and build community. “It’s such a wonderful organization, built around a simple concept.”

Interested in getting involved as a City Fruit volunteer? Contact Melanie Peters, City Fruit’s Community Outreach Coordinator.

City Fruit Board Member, Melissa Poe, recently caught up with Dave Beeman, recipient of the 2014 Gail Savina Outstanding Service Award. Above, Melissa tells us about “Dave’s Story” and what has motivated his excellent volunteer service to City Fruit over the years.

Jun12

Harvest Season has Begun!

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

Cherry season has come earlier than ever before!

Cherry season has come earlier than ever before!

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

 

Jun08

City Fruit Honors Two Volunteers

On Friday, May 30,photo City Fruit celebrated founder Gail Savina on her last day as executive director.  In honor of her work and dedication to the urban harvest, the City Fruit board of directors created the Gail Savina Award for Outstanding Service.

This award recognizes distinguished individuals who have dedicated their time and energy to help City Fruit grow and prosper. Like Ms. Savina, awardees have made substantial contributions of their time and unique talents, and have a passion for the urban fruit harvest.  The award is given at the discretion of the City Fruit board of directors, when an individual’s contributions warrant such recognition.

The inaugural awards went to long-time City Fruit volunteers and employees: David Beeman, who is responsible for developing and maintaining City Fruit’s IT systems and database, and Tabitha Borchardt, who created the look and feel of everything you see with the City Fruit logo and name, including this website.

Congratulations to our awardees! Look for two upcoming posts on Dave and Tabitha, to learn more about their work with City Fruit!

May30

The Collecting of Fruit and Thoughts

Hey there folks!

Meridian Park Orchard

Meridian Park Orchard – Photo by Audrey L. Lieberworth

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Aug09

City Fruit-Cycle: Drop off your fruit every Wednesday at Bike Works

City Fruit is kicking off a new initiative in which we encourage homeowners to harvest their own fruit, drop it off with us, and we’ll make sure it gets to one of our many food banks partners.

We are so psyched to be partnering with Bike Works to provide this community resource. Bike Works has been working for kids, bikes, and community since 1996. Their programs invest in young people and encourage bicycling as a clean and healthy transportation alternative. Check them out!

Our lovely fruit trike will be parked out in front of Bike Works in Columbia City on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30 pm during the Columbia City Farmers Market.  Come on by with your extra fruit and help us get this initiative off the ground.

Wanna volunteer? We need people to help staff our fruit cycle on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-6:30pm. Contact colette@cityfruit.org if interested.

 

Jul31

City Fruit Cocktail Class @ Cuoco

City Fruit Cocktail classPRICE: $40 all inclusive

Purchase Tickets

DATE: 08/15/2013
TIME: at Cuoco
LOCATION: Cuoco’s Sophia Room
VIEW MAP

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!

Class Schedule:

  • Thursday, September 19th: Italian Plums and Asian Pears
  • Thursday, October 24th: Apples and European Pears

 

All classes begin at 6pm and are located in Cuoco’s Sophia Room.
Class size is limited to 20 seats.
*City Fruit promotes the cultivation of urban fruit in order to nourish people, build community and protect climate.  The organization helps tree ownders grow healthy fruit, provide assistance in harvesting and preserving fruit, promote the sharing of extra fruit and work to protect urban fruit trees.  City Fruit focuses on: Conservation, preservation of the urban tree canopy, stewardship, harvest, using and sharing fruit as well as community building.

 

Feb04

A conversation with Barb Burrill, Burke-Gilman Trail Orchard Steward

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…

Lori: How did you end up becoming an orchard steward?

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.

Barb sharing cider

Barb sharing cider

 

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!

Lori: What are the outlier trees? The farthest one way versus the other way?  

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.

Gail: How do you keep people interested in pulling blackberries and ivy? How have you managed to create and keep such a loyal group over the past 3 years?

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.

Bruke-Gilman work party

Burke-Gilman work party

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.

Lori: What have been the best moments, your favorite moments, as an orchard steward so far?

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.

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

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.

Gail: What are the most difficult aspects of managing this linear orchard along a trail?

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.

Part of the orchard is under I-5

Part of the orchard is under I-5

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.

Lori: Who in the orchard steward community has been an inspiration to you or a mentor for you?

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.

Gail: What ideas do you have about educating the public about these fruit trees, and where did your ideas come from?

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!

Barb and Jan

Go sisters!

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!

Lori: Interesting!

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.

Community celebration work along the trail

Community celebration work along the trail

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.

Gail: If you could have any wish for the orchard, what would it be?

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.

 

Stewarding becomes a family affair

Stewarding becomes a family affair

Lori: My last question is, what do you have planned for 2013?

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!

Nov17

Orchard Steward Craig Thompson receives 2012 Denny Award

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.

 

Oct27

Celebrating Harvest Season with the Seattle Orchard Stewards

Hello friends,

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!

Piper orchard’s festival of fruit (Sept 15th)

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?!

Daniel and Chris, fellow pie tasters

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.

Apple identification

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.

Magical Piper orchard

Then we took another delightful walk through the woods to the orchard itself, following little “orchard this way” signs along the way, like walking on a life-sized treasure map.
This old orchard is so beautiful, so magical, I can see why orchard steward Don centers his life’s work around it.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Piper orchard to hear more of Don’s stories in the coming year.

Amy Yee orchard harvest/work party (Sept 20)

Team multch

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.

PopCap Gamers harvesting at Amy Yee

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!

Burke-Gilman Trail orchard harvest/work party (Sept 22)

One of the big old "trophy roots" that was bothering the apple tree

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.

Barb and Jan, sister stewards

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.

 

Dr Jose Rizal orchard harvest/work party (Sept 30)

Dr Jose Rizal orchard stewards

This was my first trip to the Dr Jose Rizal Orchard on Beacon Hill. It lives in the shadow of the beautiful old building (formerly a hospital, then the Amazon building, and now I’m not sure who’s there) that looks lovingly over downtown, like a benevolent old queen looking out across her subjects.

Stewards with a view

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?”

Beautiful

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…

West Seattle harvest cider pressing (Sept 30)

cider in the works

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.

Thanks Betsy!

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.

Martha Washington orchard harvest/cider pressing (October 14)

Jim invited us to the harvest and cider pressing event at Martha Washington orchard a few weeks later.

Rainy harvest at Martha Washington

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.

Cheers stewards!

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!

 

Burke-Gilman Trail cider pressing (Oct 21st)

harvest dancers

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.

Helpful hands

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.

who likes cider pressing events?

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 lori@collectiveself.com.

Jun10

June Fruit Tree Tip: Thin Fruit Now

If you’re like us, you’re getting excited for the upcoming fruit harvest. I can’t help but continually check out our fruit trees to watch the progress of our fuit — apples, pears, plums all getting bigger. And by now, your apples and pears should be the size of a quarter (or larger), and hard as it is to contemplate, it’s time to ruthlessly remove much of the fruit (called ‘thinning’).

This activity helps the fruit tree focus its energy to a fewer number of fruit, making those fruit that are left larger and tastier. Would you rather have a lot of small, bland fruit or slightly fewer fruit that are of good size and taste? It’s not just about this year though — leaving fruit on the branch means that you get smaller fruit this year and less fruit next year. So thin your fruit now for both short-term and long-term benefits.

In this short video, Tom Thornton of Cloud Mountain Farm, shows how and tells why to do this.