Posts Tagged ‘West Seattle’


Giving Fruit to Youth in our Communities

High Point HEalthy Families Celebration

These past couple of weeks have been very exciting for me as I’ve been able to expose City Fruit to two neighborhood Back to School events and provide fruit to them as well! A large part of why I do the work I do is because I care deeply about culturally appropriate, healthy food access for all people regardless of where they live, what they do, or how much money they make. As a person who grew up in a working class family and who had to trek nearly thirty minutes to a single farmers market outside of my community, I’ve made it a part of my life’s goal to increase accessibility of affordable (or in City Fruit’s case, free!) fresh food.

The first event — High Point Healthy Families Celebration —  was held at Neighborhood House in West Seattle, one of the first neighborhoods in Seattle where City Fruit still harvests and donates fruit. The community event was hustling and bustling with other awesome organizations who have a presence in West Seattle. Besides for awesome City Fruit gear giveaways, we were able to donate many crates of Italian plums to complement their free dinner!

Van Asselt Elementary School was the next Back to School festival we were able to partner with this year. We’re lucky enough to work in the same neighborhood of the school (Beacon Hill), so providing fresh fruit for them just made sense! Over 400 people attended the event and they were able to enjoy some tasty varieties of pears and plums. They also got some sweet bookmarks to start their school year off right! Our harvest coordinator Luke dropped off the bounty and was swarmed by a group of third graders who asked asked him how much money all of the fruit cost to buy in which he was able to explain City Fruit’s model. His response was shocking to the kids: “It was free! Thanks to the goodwill and generosity of folks in our community, MANY more people can enjoy fresh fruit!”

Support City Fruit today by getting involved as a volunteer harvester to get more fruit to families in need. You can also join us by taking care of the fruit trees in one of the public parks we steward to ensure pest free apples, plums, and pears!

Melanie is the Community Outreach Coordinator for City Fruit.


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.



Help City Fruit Win $50,000 to fund the Urban Harvest!

FINAL_CommunitieswithDriveFinalistTemplate_LogoWe are thrilled to announce that City Fruit was chosen as a finalist of the “Communities with Drive” program, sponsored by Zipcar, Inc. and Ford Motor Company.  Communities with Drive is designed to acknowledge and reward organizations that have a profound impact on the communities in which they operate. As one of 25 finalists from over 400 entries and the only finalist in Seattle, we are eligible to win $50,000 in cash as well as $15,450 in Zipcar credit to support our mission. Winners of the Communities with Drive program are voted on by the public on Facebook.

Vote for City Fruit on Facebook! 

The cash prize and Zipcar credit will be used to fund our annual harvest in five Seattle neighborhoods: Ballard, Phinney/Greenwood, South Seattle, Wallingford, and West Seattle. The grand prize would enable us to reach more neighborhoods — translating unused, wasted fruit into healthy, nutritious food for our neighbors in need. Our work is more important than ever; half of Seattle families facing hunger are not eligible for nutrition programs like food stamps.  City Fruit, along with our partners, help to fill that gap.

Please vote here and help spread the news!


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:

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?”


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 [email protected].


City Fruit cider press is getting a workout

 As autumn persists, the urge to be outside pressing fragrant fruit into hearty cider has kept our Correll press busy.  Here Hunt Towler and David Beeman press more than 1,000 pounds of apples at the West Seattle Nursery pressing, where it seemed like half of West Seattle brought in apples to squeeze on Sept 27.  (For more photos, go to Tumblr.)  This was followed by a trip to the Holy Cross Church Orchard in Bellevue on Oct 6  and last weekend’s visit to Beacon Hill, where the Rainier Valley Cooperative PreSchool rallied the troops on a blustery autumn day.  There’s nothing quite like watching apples become liquified.

Next up (details on our Events page):  Freeway Estates Community Cider Fest, Oct 20, 2 – 5;  Burke Gilman Trail orchard stewards cider pressing on Sunday, Oct 21, 12 – 3;  City Fruit’s cider pressing benefit for the Greenwood Food Bank, Oct 27, noon – 4; and City Fruit’s 2nd Annual Hard Cider Taste Nov 1, 5 – 8 pm.


A note about our press.  Our Correll press is a wooden press with an electric motor to drive the grinder portion; the press itself is manual.  It was handbuilt by a gentleman in Oregon, and in 2009 we had to wait four months after putting in our order:  there were more than 50 presses ahead of us in line.  Last weekend I attended an apple tasting/cider pressing event in Portland and saw a twenty-four year old Correll press in action.  It didn’t look much different from our two-year-old press and was still going strong.


Nudging your neighbors

We get asked a lot, “My neighbors have a beautiful fruit tree that they never harvest, what should I do?”  Sometimes it’s more like, “I WOULD have great fruit if only my neighbors wouldn’t leave THEIRS to rot all over the ground!” or “They have this tree that hangs out over the sidewalk and and drops fruit everywhere so no one can get by and it gets all over your car and shoes and…”

Calm down people!  Here’s what to do: First, take a deep breath.  Remember this nugget of wisdom: People aren’t lazy, they’re exhausted.  Your neighbors are probably too busy to even think about that fruit, or maybe they see it in passing and think I should do something about that… but they’re already off to whatever’s next.  But that’s why City Fruit exists.  We take all that fruit that people are too busy for, and give it to people who really need it, meanwhile, cleaning up your rotting fruit problem!

Now it’s time to talk to your neighbors, and it’s best to be prepared.  Find out ahead of time who to contact, and write it down.  I’ll make it easy for you:

Think about what to say.  We reccomend keeping it positive, leaving out your annoyance altogether, and focusing on helping people in need.  Here’s a script:

“I noticed you have a fruit tree in your yard that isn’t fully harvested.  I wanted to let you know about an organization called City Fruit that harvests neighborhood fruit trees and donates the produce to organizations in Seattle that help people in need. Would you be interested in that?  I wrote down the email address here.”

This could go a couple of ways:

  • “That’s great!  We’ve been so busy lately.”  Good job, you’ve rescued the fruit!  Make some small talk.  Maybe check in a week later, since they’re busy people and may have forgotten.
  • “How does it work?” It’s OK if you don’t know the details.  Here’s the basics: We scout the tree to see when it’s ripe, then organize a volunteer work party.  The owner can decide to be there or not, and we schedule harvests daytime, evenings, and weekends.  We can leave a small box of fruit at the owner’s request.  For other questions, they can check out our website or just contact the harvest coordinator directly.
  • I’m the last person in the world without a computer” (I don’t mean that out of sarcasm, that’s just always what people say.) Offer to contact us for them.  Write down their phone number, send it to us explaining the circumstances, and we’ll give them a call.
  • “I can harvest it, I just can’t use it!”  They can take donations to the food bank themselves.  See our website for a list of donation sites.  Also consider exchanging some fruit, or other goods, if you’d like a taste of some of that fruit!  We’ve heard of neighbors setting up an exchange so that everyone gets one box of plums, one of apples, one of pears, etc.  You could even hold a canning party to make some jams for everyone.
  • “I can use it, I just can’t harvest it!”  PNA members can check out an orchard ladder from the tool library.  Or maybe you have one to share!
  • “Bah! I can let ’em rot if I want!”  I do mean that out of sarcasm.  People probably won’t say that, but it’s possible.  If so, don’t push it.  You can’t win ’em all.  If there’s really a mess on the sidewalk or street, you could offer to clean it up.  You could report it to the city too, since residents have a responsibility to keep the sidewalk clear, but that might result in the loss of the tree, so consider carefully.
  • If they’re not home, try again or leave a note, but be sure to sign it.  If they realize it’s coming from a friendly neighbor, they’re much more likely to follow through.

Thanks for caring so much about harvesting fruit!  We find that folks often just don’t know what to do with a fruit tree.  Once they see it harvested, they start to see it as good food, which leads to taking caring of the tree and harvesting it.  Good luck!