Posts Tagged ‘WA’


John (Appleseed) Chapman’s Fruitful Eccentricity

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

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

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

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


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

Disaster Relief for WA Farms

Previously, I wrote about how the FDA designated several WA counties as disaster areas because of the crazy weather we’ve been having and today I see that Governor Christine Gregoire is touring the area as part of her “Feed Washington” tour. Because of the damage she’s seen she’s asking the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to declare 29 counties farm disaster areas — making them eligible for federal assistance.

All this rain and cooler temperatures are wreaking havoc on everything from hay (which is primarily exported to Japan) to cherries. It’s not just the weather, but also the horrible economic climate that’s also really hurting farmers (and everyone else, for that matter).

One of the ideas that Gov. Gregoire mentioned, I half agree with. From MSNBC:

The governor explained that she has seen the demand for Washington fruit like cherries on recent trips to Asia. She believes helping fruit growers tap those markets will get the state out of tough economic times.

“If we do that, we’ll find our way out of this recession,” said Gregoire. “That’s the road to recovery for us.”

From what I read, more cherries are already heading to Japan. And while I like the intention that demand for WA state fruit can help farmers find their way out of the recession, I’m not sure about exporting that fruit — and not sure how that fits in to Feed Washington. I would think there’s plenty of demand for fresh fruit from right here in WA state and that a push for buying locally produced fruit & veg would be a better way to go.

This weather is making us a bit nervous as well — not sure what kind of crop we’ll get here in the city. Plums, by most accounts, are having a bad year after having a record year last year. Cherries seem to be coming in ok, though. What I’m really curious about is how the apple crop will be. Historically Seattle apples are pretty unusable due to the apple maggots, but we’ve seen little evidence of those buggers so far.


What kind of crop can we expect?

I’m getting excited about the upcoming harvest. This time of year is always bubbling with anticipation as we gear up for another harvest — recruiting volunteers, identifying tree owners who have excess fruit, etc. And as part of that I always wonder what kind of crop we’ll get this year. Last year, we had a record amount of plums. What will it be this year?

Things don’t look so good  in Michigan — at least not beyond a good blueberry production. Looks like the apple crop will be down 53% due mainly to early spring warm weather followed by cold. They’re expecting a lower-than-normal cherry crop as well. And even though New Hampshire had similar conditions (including a frost May 10), they anticipate a good apple harvest.

Since we had similar conditions here in Washington, I was wondering if we’re in for a similar trend. Like everything, the answer isn’t quite cut & dry.

From the same article about Michigan, there’s a reference that Washington apple crop should actually grow this year — 140 million bushels estimated, up from 132 last year. But I just read that several WA counties were designated “natural disaster areas” by the USDA because of how the weather impacted the apple & cherry crops. This allows farmers access to emergency loans to help them offset the cost of losses due to the weather. Although, if you read this from, it sounds like there’s a strong crop of cherry’s ready to go.

Getting a read on what the Seattle harvest will be like is even more difficult so it may just be a case of wait-and-see. Our pear trees are producing less than they did in 2009 — but they had a huge crop last year, so that’s kind of expected. I guess we won’t fully know until we start harvesting. We should start on the cherries, red plums, and transparent apples in July — so we’ll have a much better sense then.

And just to get you in the mood for the upcoming harvest season, which kicks off pretty much with cherries, here’s a video that tells you the proper way to harvest cherries:


Get ready for all that fruit coming your way!

Seattle Tilth, located at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, room 140 (Senior Center), Seattle, WA 98103
is offering the following great workshop:

The Master Food Preservation Educator Training will provide trainees with the knowledge and skills to train others on safe methods of food preservation. The class series will include food preservation history, food borne illness overview, canning techniques for fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood, pickling and fermenting, freezing and dehydrating procedures, and teaching strategies. The course will be taught during six Saturday classes that will include one part lecture, one part kitchen practicum, and one part teach-back activities to build teaching techniques and skills. Upon completion of the course attendees will be certified by Seattle Tilth to teach Food Preservation for 3 years. The course will be taught by Susy Hymas, a Master Food Preserver and Nutrition Educator with 30 plus years of food preservation experience. For more information about other Seattle Tilth classes, visit our website.
COST: $350; payment plans and some scholarship assistance are available.
Dates: May 8, 15, 22, June 5, 12, 19, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
To register, download an application form and mail it in with your payment.
To get to their website, click here



A movie that may change your food shopping habits…

Full Circle Farm in Carnation, WA (and here is their website) posted this film on their facebook page today. Here is their comment: “Watched this again last night. If you haven’t seen this movie, or know someone that hasn’t please organize a viewing. Knowledge is the first step to change.” And, further: “If you or your school is interested in hosting a screening of Food Inc., write to us. We will make sure you get the rights you need along with your copy of the film.” Be sure to check them out!