Thank you for being a friend and supporter of the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP)!   We had another exciting fall season of expanding community orchards in the city and would like to share some of the highlights with you.  Please listen to our recent interview on WHYY and consider a donation to help us continue to build a green, abundant city.A few highlights from Fall 2012:

  • Planted our 500th fruit tree and our 1000th berry bush in Philadelphia.
  • Celebrated our second annual Philadelphia Orchard Day with harvest festivals, cider-pressing, pumpkin-painting, and lots of fresh fruit at POP partner sites in neighborhoods across the city.
  • Formed a new Education Committee and hosted orchard all-star Lee Reich for a Fruit Growing Simplified workshop.
  • Involved over five hundred Philadelphians from across the city in planting and caring for community orchards.
  • Hired Phil Forsyth as Executive Director through grant support from the Claneil Foundation, the Samuel Fels Fund, the Patricia Kind Family Foundation, the Austelle Foundation and the Union Benevolent Association.
Village pressing
Cider pressing at the Village of Arts in North Philly on Philadelphia Orchard Day 2012!

We need your help to support our continued success! We thank those of you who have already donated towards our annual appeal.  So far we have raised $3,268, or 32% of our goal for the appeal.  If you haven’t yet contributed, we hope you will consider a donation at phillyorchards.org/donate or by check at the address below:

    Philadelphia Orchard Project
    PO Box 222
    Philadelphia, PA 19105

Food Trust Partnership Plants School Orchards in North Philly!
Planting community orchards in the city involves a lot more than putting trees in the ground.  In November, POP planted a new orchard in collaboration with the Food Trust Snackin’ Fresh program and Welsh Elementary in North Philadelphia.  Because the school itself didn’t have an appropriate space for the orchard, it was designed for the nearby Nelson Playground where many of the students participate in after school programming.  The Food Trust obtained a grant to support the orchard planting, POP designed the orchard space, and the plan was reviewed and approved by the school and Parks & Rec.  Many of the nanking cherries, pears, blueberries, and other plants were special ordered from an edible plant nursery in North Carolina and then cared for by volunteers at POP’s nursery.  A local garden center delivered soil, compost, and containers.  Finally, on a cold but sunny afternoon, students from Welsh worked to plant their orchard with volunteers from The Food Trust, POP, Temple University, and CISworks.  POP and The Food Trust fueled the crew with fresh apples and other nutritious snacks.  I heard one student remark to her Dad as it was getting dark, “We can’t leave yet, let me plant one more raspberry please!”
Welsh @ Nelson
Welsh Elementary students planting at North Philly’s Nelson Playground.
POP also worked with the Food Trust to plant our first all-container orchard with students at nearby Fairhill Elementary to green their concrete schoolyard.  The Snackin’ Fresh program will work with both schools to maintain the orchards and the fruit will provide healthy snacks and educational enrichment.

Fall 2012 Event SummaryPhiladelphia Orchard Day.  Our second annual city-wide celebration of community orchards was a great success with nine of our partner sites hosting events in neighborhoods across the city.  Woodford held its 4th annual Apple Fest, featuring tree-planting, ciderpressing, heirloom apple tasting, cooking demos, and tours of the historic house, orchard, and beehives.  Fairhill, the Village of Arts, South Philly, Grumblethorpe, and Overbrook also held harvest festivals with fun family activities like facepainting, pumpkin painting, cider-pressing, and apple tasting.  Awbury, Teens 4 Good, and Belmont hosted volunteer days to prepare for a new orchard and maintain existing ones.  All Orchard Day events featured fresh, local apples donated by the Fruit Guys.

Hunting Park Orchard, North Philadelphia.  This fall we planted chestnuts, apples, cherries, and more with our partners the Hunting Park Community Garden, Fairmount Park Conservancy, and Parks & Rec.  The fruit and nuts will go to the gardeners and their friends and neighbors.  Hutning Park is one of two orchards sponsored this year by the Junior League of Philadelphia, who will also be working with us in organizing a community festival centered around food, nutrition, and health in the spring.

Orchard Expansions.  POP also collaborated with community partners in expanding plantings at 1o other existing orchard sites this spring, including Bartram’s Garden, Woodford, Earth’s Keepers, Teens 4 Good @ Carousel, USLA, Overbrook, Teens 4 Good @ Poplar, Grumblethorpe, South Philly Teen, and Greenfield Elementary.   In all, 70 new fruit & nut trees, 105 berry bushes, 594 perennials & groundcovers were planted by hundreds of volunteers to help realize our vision of fresh fruit in every neighborhood in the city.

Woodford planting 2012
Volunteers planting a persimmon at the Woodford Orchard in East Fairmount Park.

Orchard Education.   More than 500 volunteers participated in orchard plantings and other POP events across the city and received training in orchard care and proper planting techniques.  POP hosted a Fruit Growing Simplified workshop with Lee Reich at the SHARE Food Program, an Urban Permaculture workshop with Peter Bane at Awbury Arboretum, and trainings on compost bin construction at Pepper Middle School and rainbarrel installation at Temple Presbyterian Church.

POP Nursery, Awbury Arboretum.  In a partnership with Weavers Way Farm, volunteers assisted in propagating and caring for plant materials for POP’s orchards.  Additional plants were donated by individuals from across the city.

Orchard Report: Nice Roots Farm at SHARE

The Nice Roots Farm is a three year old urban agriculture project associated with the SHARE Food Program in the West Allegheny neighborhood of North Philadelphia. For the last two years we have grown vegetables in raised beds and fruit in partnership with POP on what used to be a gravel parking lot. We sell half of our fresh, chemical free produce directly to our community for the same price as the most affordable grocery store. The other half of the harvest is donated to SHARE affiliated soup kitchens and food cupboards.  To date, we have grown more than 14,000 pounds of vegetables on our 1/4 acre “farm!”
2012 was a year of rapid growth in our orchard at SHARE Food Program. The fruit trees and bushes are gaining strength in their third year in the and are beginning to provide us with small samples of the bounty that is going to come in the years ahead. Several school groups were fortunate enough to volunteer on days when we were picking fruit. We picked mulberries, currants, peaches, blueberries, and jujubes and ate them in the orchard while conducting educational sessions. Witnessing  children and adults eating fruit right of the tree for the first time is truly a rewarding experience.
SHARE tour
A tour of the lush SHARE orchard. . .  a vacant lot only 3 years ago!

One of our Nice Roots Farm interns hand-painted a 4′ x 8′ site map of the property. The map has every tree, bush, and vine labeled and easy to see for garden visitors, including the hundreds of people who come to SHARE each week for emergency food services. At a glance people can see the diversity of fruit trees in our orchard, and can single out trees or bushes they want to examine further. Next year we look forward to bigger harvests and hopefully the first harvest from our apple and persimmon trees.  In August, the SHARE Orchard and POP hosted more than 30 participants for a Fruit Growing Simplified workshop with Lee Reich, author of Grow Fruit Naturally.

If you are interested in volunteer work or a site visit feel free to stop by SHARE Nice Roots Farm at 2901 West Hunting Park Ave. You can also email me at bshick@sharefoodprogram.org.

Orchard Report contributed by Bill Shick, Urban Agriculture Director at SHARE and member of POP’s Orchard Committee.  

Looking to get involved?Here are a few ways you can share your skills, time and resources with POP:

Join the Education Committee!
Members of this new committee will work to organize orchard workshops and trainings and help us develop educational materials about orchard care, nutrition, composting, weed identification, and more!  With a generous grant from the Harlon Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Education Committee will be working closely with Awbury Arboretum in 2013 to plant a demonstration Edible Forest Garden and design and implement a new school curriculum focused on nutrition, horticulture, and permaculture.  If you would like to donate your expertise in curriculum development or graphic design, please contact Nicole Yarbrough (nyarbrough@seamaac.org) to learn more.
USLA planting
Planting blackberries in South Philly. (elkrockphotography.com)

Host a House Party for POP
Want to really help POP grow its base and raise money to plant fruit trees in Philadelphia?  Host a house party!  These simple affairs can range from appetizers or pizza to a sit-down meal for your friends. You would plan the party, invite friends, neighbors, relatives, and colleagues, and POP would send a representative to talk about orchard planting in Philadelphia and how the funds will be used.  Email Kim Jordan (kjordan@phillyorchards.org) for more information on this unique opportunity!

Volunteer at Orchard Plantings and Events
To receive updates about upcoming volunteer opportunities, please sign up for our volunteer list on our website (www.phillyorchards.org/volunteer/signup). You can also view a list of events on our homepage.

Join the Orchard CommitteeExperienced POP volunteers are invited to serve as orchardliaisons, developing a long-term relationship with our orchard sites and community partners.  Coordinated by Orchard Director Phil Forsyth, the Orchard Committee does POP’s core work: evaluating and coordinating with potential planting partners, working with community based groups to plan and plant orchards, and providing long term follow up for orchard care. The orchard committee consists of staff, board members, and volunteers who meet four times per year. Liaisons are expected to work closely with their partner sites and, with help from POP, hone their skills as orchardists.  For additional information, please contact Orchard Director Phil Forsyth (phil@phillyorchards.org).

Please use the forward email function below to send this newsletter to friends and family who are interested in our mission to plant orchards in the city of Philadelphia that grow healthy food, green spaces and community food security.
Sincerely,

Phil Forsyth, Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.