“For most of those involved, this was the first time they had ever seen or tasted food grown right in front of their eyes and by their own hands.”
-Vicki Mehl, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School Orchard
Thanks for being friends and supporters of POP!  We hope you will take a moment to read the story of our season and that it will inspire you to continue to support our work with community orchards in Philadelphia.

A few highlights from Fall 2013:

  • Over 1250 individuals participated in our 3rd annual Philadelphia Orchard Day at orchard sites across the city!
  • Over 3000 Philadelphians tasted something grown and over 6000 participated in educational opportunities at POP orchards this year.
  • POP planted or expanded city orchards with a total of 107 fruit & nut trees, 99 berry bushes & vines, and 765 perennials & groundcovers.
Volunteers at the Bartram’s Garden Orchard.

Please read below for more info about POP’s latest efforts:

  • winter workshop offerings
  • fall season summary
  • POP orchard survey
  • orchard report: Teens 4 Good
  • POP board update
  • how you can help!

Winter WorkshopsWe invite you to join us for two upcoming workshops on pruning and orchard care.  Space is limited at both events, so please sign up soon to reserve a spot:


Saturday, February 1, 11am-3pm
Awbury Arboretum Cope House, 1 Awbury Road, NW Philly
Awbury Arboretum is hosting a pruning workshop led by POP’s Phil Forsyth and Kevin Stutler. A classroom session will introduce the basics of pruning fruit trees & berry bushes, followed by an afternoon of hands-on training at the Awbury Orchard & Ag Village.
$25 for general public, $20 for POP partners and volunteers.
RSVP REQUIRED and for more info:
Saturday, February 22, 9am – 4pm
Bartram’s Garden, 54th & Lindbergh Blvd, West Philly
POP and Bartram’s Garden are bringing orchard all-star Michael Phillips to town to lead this exciting learning opportunity.  The intensive full day workshop will cover all the basics of holistic orchard care and demonstrate hands-on pruning techniques for healthy fruit trees. Bartram’s Garden is the nation’s oldest botanic garden and the site of POP’s largest orchard in the city.
$50 for general public, $45 for POP partners and volunteers.
RSVP REQUIRED and for more info:

Fall 2013 Event SummaryOrchard Education.  We believe that educating Philadelphians, especially children, about where their food comes from and providing the direct experience of growing and eating fresh fruit is POP’s greatest accomplishment.  This fall, POP directly trained over 300 volunteers in planting and orchard care and a total of over 6000 participated in educational programs at POP orchards in 2013.  We look forward to continuing our work with Awbury Arboretum on developing an orchard-based school curriculum in 2014.

Orchard Plantings

Volunteers assisted POP and our partners in planting 4 brand new orchards this fall.  A partnership with Parks & Rec resulted in orchards at North Philly’s Rivera Rec Center and at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center in collaboration with the Master Gardeners.  POP partnered with the Committee of 1926 and East Park Revitalization Alliance on an orchard at Historic Strawberry Mansion.  POP assisted the Overbrook School for the Blind with new fruit trees on their campus.  Existing orchard sites were also expanded at Awbury Arboretum, Bartram’s Garden, Teens 4 Good @ Carousel, and Hunting Park.  A grant from ACTrees enabled POP to plant and distribute 80 additional fruit trees to orchard partners, community gardens, and individuals across the city.  To read more about all our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.

Pumpkin and face painting on Orchard Day at the South Philly Teen Orchard!


Philadelphia Orchard Day.  Our 3rd annual celebration of community orchards was bigger and better than ever!  Over 1250 people planted, harvested, toured, and tasted at 13 POP orchards across the city.  Activities included cooking demos, cider pressing, pumpkin painting, and hayrides.  A couple dozen hardy individuals experienced 5 Orchard Day events as part of our first ever urban orchard bike tour. Participating sites included Woodford, Awbury, Overbrook EEC, Teens 4 Good, Bartram’s Garden, SHARE, Fairhill, South Philly, Grumblethorpe, Belmont, Tertulias, and Solid Rock.

2013 POP Orchard SurveyThis fall we conducted a survey of POP orchards across the city.  Some of the highlights of the data collected included that figs, pears and raspberries were among the most productive fruits in the city; that most of the orchard produce is being distributed within the neighborhoods where it is grown; and the numbers of Philadelphians caring for orchards, tasting their fruit, and using them as gathering and learning spaces.

Many of our partners expressed the value of the orchards in their communities:


“Some kids were nervous to eat something off the plant, but once they saw their friends enjoying them and I told them all about the differences between this fruit and the fruit at the grocery store, their apprehension vanished and they enjoyed picking and eating berries in the sun after school.”

-Bri Barton, Fairhill Orchard

“The orchard has added untold beauty to this city landscape.”
-Doris Stahl, Overbrook Environmental Education Center Orchard
“The educational value of these trees is incredible. Beyond learning about the tree itself and how to care for it, the taste of the fresh figs was so powerful.  Many of our residents had never had fresh figs right off the tree before.”
-Allison Blansfield, Walnut Hill Orchard
“My favorite time in the orchard is always our two annual festivals, serving as a venue for community building, environmental education, networking, and fun.”
-Nicole Sugerman, Woodford Orchard
“Kids and parents on their way to and from school went out of their way to walk down our street every day to pick strawberries” 
-Ryan Kuck, Preston’s Paradise & Ogden Gardens Orchards

Orchard Report: Teens 4 Good

Teens 4 Good (T4G), a program developed and managed the Federation of Neighborhood Centers, has been addressing hunger and poor nutrition since 2005 by training inner city youth to reclaim their communities by transforming vacant forgotten spaces into sustainable urban farms, using sustainable agricultural growing methods to grow healthy food for our communities and  people in need.

Weekly farmstand at Teens 4 Good, where pints of figs and mulberries were sold this year!

During this time, T4G has been privileged to partner with POP to build 4 food forest orchards within our farms and is looking forward to adding a 5th in 2014.  The orchards bring added life and a natural growing environment to each T4G farm.  The added food production gives us the ability to grow and taste varieties that you may not find in the grocery store.  Additionally, our POP orchards create a living outdoor classroom where knowledge can be shared with our youth and community members.  Here are some stories from our T4G farmers about the orchards on their farms:

Aviva Asher, lead urban farmer/educator at 8th & Poplar farm:

“One day in summer, following a Saturday workday, a farm stand customer discovered the gate was open and walked in, remembering that it was fig season. This very boisterous, middle aged woman has type II diabetes. She tried her first fig at our farm stand two years ago. She told her doctor, family and friends about her love of figs and that day convinced me to let her pick and buy two pints of figs (or as many as I could spare.) She is one of many fig enthusiasts at our farm!”

Corrie Spellman, urban famer/educator at the Carousel House farm:

“In the Spring of 2013 a group of high school students ventured into T4G’s Carousel House Farm for the first time on a POP workday and helped expand the orchard with more blueberries, fruit trees, and an abundance of perennials.  It was the blueberries that were the entryway to many of these student’s first jobs. The experience enticed them to come back, apply for an internship with T4G, and return for the summer to find out what happened to the bushes they so proudly planted. The blueberries taught them the excitement of tasting the fruits of their labor, the joy of sharing the harvest with neighbors, and the value of locally grown produce.”

Teens 4 Good youth planting more blueberries at 8th & Poplar this fall!

Teens 4 Good has also partnered with POP at the Light House Field farm in North Philly and the USLA farm in South Philly.  We are currently working with POP on plans for a new orchard in Roxborough’s Gorgas Park and we hope you will join us for volunteer opportunities at Teens 4 Good orchard sites in 2014.

Orchard Report contributed by Jamie McKnight, Director of Teens 4 Good

POP Board Update from new President Brian Olszak
It’s a very exciting time for POP: with Phil as Executive Director, and more orchards, volunteers and partnerships than ever before, it’s come time to realize that we are no longer the young start-up we once were. We’re growing older and wiser (we’ve just turned 7, after all!), and it’s time to look to the future to a more mature and robust POP. With that in mind, POP is embarking on its first substantive strategic planning process since its founding. We’ll be planning new ways to support our work and to improve and expand our existing offerings, all while making sure our close partnerships with communities in Philadelphia only get closer. And of course, more orchards!
I’d also like to introduce the Board’s new Executive Committee. New Board member Aviva Asher is stepping up to the position of Secretary; Bruce Schimmel will serve as our Vice President; and Kim Jordan, our outgoing President, will serve as Treasurer; and I am very honored to accept the position of President. Having volunteered with POP since 2010, joining the Board in 2011, I’m very excited to help lead POP into this new phase of its development. As a part of my tenure, I hope to help ensure POP’s financial stability by expanding earned income opportunities, expand and increase the effectiveness and reach of our educational programs, and getting more orchards and fruit in more neighborhoods.Thank you all for your continued support and hope to see you soon at the next orchard planting! 


You Can Help!

Here are a few ways you can share your skills, time and resources with POP:
Support new orchard plantings in 2014
Our 2013 annual appeal raised $7676 in individual donations, $2324 short of our $10,000 goal to support new plantings this year at Urban Creators Farm in North Philly, Solid Rock Church in Olney, and at Gorgas Park with Teens 4 Good and the North Light Community Center.  Please consider a donation of any size to ensure we have the resources to complete these new plantings: phillyorchards.org/donate.
Join POP’s Committees 
We’re always looking for more good volunteers for POP’s operating committees!  To help our Education Committee with developing new educational materials and curriculum, please contact Nicole Yarbrough (nyarbrough1@gmail.com).  To assist our Fundraising Committee with grantwriting, organizing fundraising events, or info about hosting a house party for POP, please contact Kim Jordan (kjordan@phillyorchards.org).  Experienced POP volunteers are invited to join POP’s Orchard Committee and work directly with our orchard partners; for more info contact Phil Forsyth (phil@phillyorchards.org).

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

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.

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.