“For Ms. Lisa, UTC staff and Pearl Street resident for practically her entire life, the orchard is a sanctuary. She can see it from her kitchen window, blooming in the spring and bearing fruit in the summer, and she wonders how she is so blessed to have an orchard in the city.” –Sue Witte, Urban Tree Connection Orchard

We thank you for supporting our vision of a more beautiful, bountiful Philadelphia!
Here are some highlights from our spring season:
  • Planted or expanded 15 community orchards in Philadelphia with 91 new fruit & nut trees, 287 berry bushes & vines, and 1475 perennials & groundcovers
  • Assisted with brand new orchard plantings at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and Tilden Middle School.
  • Published our long-anticipated POP urban orchard weed identification guide
  • Expanded our educational programming including our workshop series, internship program, and harvest days.
We hope you will take a few minutes to read below about some of the interesting people and stories we encountered along the way.
POP harvest event picking abundant serviceberries at the Francisville Orchard!

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

  • spring season summary
  • POP weed identification guide
  • orchard report: Overbrook Environmental Education Center
  • POP internship program grows
  • new support and media coverage
  • how you can help!

Spring 2015 Season Summary

Orchard Plantings.  POP’s core work of planting and supporting community orchards in the city continues to grow and we are now working with 49 different orchard sites in neighborhoods across the city!  244 volunteers joined with us and our partners at 15 orchard planting events this spring.  Brand new orchards were planted with the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in Center City and with Tilden Middle School in West Philly. We also expanded existing orchard sites at Solid Rock Church, Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Teens 4 Good Lighthouse Farm, Gorgas Park, Historic Fair Hill, Teens 4 Good Poplar Farm, Overbrook School for the Blind, and at the Philadelphia Prison Systems. To read more about all our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.
POP assisted with a brand new orchard at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, with fruit trees and berries planted in a parking lot container garden!  Photo by Susan Nam. 
Harvest, Gleaning & Preservation.  Come early June, we see the first explosion of harvestable fruit. Since many of POP’s partner orchards contain trees that are still immature, we’ve been taking the opportunity to introduce people to the abundance all around us in the form of street trees, volunteer trees in vacant lots, and wild edibles. This year, we held three serviceberry harvests-in the spaces around Evelyn Sanders Orchard, Francisville Orchard, and on The University of Pennsylvania campus near the Penn Park Orchard. Harvesters were able to go home with as many serviceberries as they wanted to try out recipes like serviceberry jam,serviceberry and poppy-seed cake, and serviceberry pie. Twenty pounds went to a fundraiser with West Philly’s Spruce Hill Preserves for a local POP Serviceberry Jam, and ten pounds went towards cocktails for a happy hour fundraiser at W/N W/N Coffee Bar. Stay tuned for more POPHarvest community harvest events this fall with crabapples, ginkgo nuts, and more!
Orchard Education.  POP dramatically increased our educational programming this spring, with over 250 participants attending 14 workshops and tours on topics including ecological and biodynamic orchard care, fruit tree grafting and pruning, compost tea, wild edibles, and mushroom cultivation.  We also co-sponsored the first ever full Permaculture Design Course held in Philadelphia and hosted Dave Jacke (author of Edible Forest Gardens) for a very well attended talk on Ecological Culture Design and a tour of POP orchards.  We published our long-anticipated POP weed identification guide, expanded our internship program, and will soon launch a blog feature on our website that will allow our partners and the general public to explore and utilize our ever growing list of POP TIPS articles on orchard care and related topics.  If you’re interested in learning more about orchard care, please consider joining the Philadelphia Orchard Group (PHOG), our orchard education email listserv.
Author Dave Jacke with us on a tour of POP orchards across North Philly.
7th Annual East Park Strawberry Harvest Festival.  This year we celebrated the spring harvest at a new festival host site, Historic Strawberry Mansion and the Committee of 1926!  Over 70 community members and volunteers participated in activities including a strawberry dessert contest, face-painting and other arts & crafts, a trellis building workshop, tours of the historic house, and of course lots of good food.  Neighborhood kids picked and devoured strawberries and raspberries straight from the Strawberry Mansion berry garden!  We hope you will join the fun at this fall’s Apple Festival at Woodford Mansion with our festival partners the East Park Revitalization Alliance and Naomi Wood Trust.

POP publishes new Weed Identification Guide!
After 4 years in production, POP published our urban orchard weed identification guide this spring!  This user-friendly guide was designed for our orchard partners to identify over 40 of the most common weeds in Philadelphia.  The guide also educates partners about positive and negative attributes of each weed, including life cycle, growth habit, edible and medicinal qualities, and ecological value.  Based on these characteristics, the guide makes recommendations for which weeds to consider tolerating and which to consider removing.
Although intended for use by our partners, POP’s Weed Identification Guide has value for any home gardener!  The guide is now available for purchase at POP outreach events, at some area nurseries, and via mail order. The price for mail delivery is $18/guide; please email info@phillyorchards.org to order or for more information. We are happy to provide reduced pricing for orders of 10 or more copies. This is a great way to support POP while expanding your knowledge base!

Orchard Report: Overbrook Environmental Education Center
“If knowing was a prerequisite, then we would have never started.” Jerome Shabazz started Overbrook Environmental Education in 1998 by teaching at Overbrook High School. As he saw grades continue to improve, he wanted a way to accommodate continuous student engagement and sought the space at 61st and Lancaster Avenue for hands-on education, and thus birthed the continuously expanding Overbrook Environmental Education Center.
“It’s a transformational space”, Shabazz said, both literally and figuratively. They first pulled out forty tons of trash from the former EPA Brownfield site, transformed the land, and are now transforming the lives of community members through programming and training. Keyonna, 18, one of OEEC’s six summer WorkReady students from the Philadelphia Youth Network, gave me an enthusiastic tour. “I like this program,” she said. “I didn’t know anything, and now I know a bunch. I go home and tell my mom ‘You should get a rain barrel’, and next year we’re going to have a garden!” OEEC has engaged an additional 6,900 students since 2002.
Jerome Shabazz, Kirtrina Baxter, and the OEEC summer WorkReady crew pose by their orchard!
POP first partnered with OEEC in 2o12, helping them to transform a grassy drainage swale into a food forest planting featuring apples, cherries, peaches, figs, grapes, and a wide range of berries, flowers, and herbs.  Since then, POP has assisted with additional plantings of pollinator gardens, plums, and even pomegranates.  The lush shades of green and flowers in every color of the rainbow immediately sooth you as you approach OEEC’s outdoor space. Shabazz said, “People go nuts for the strawberries”, which have taken over the front of the orchard area, and the apple tree and grape vines are overflowing with fruit for harvest later in the season. All produce from the orchard and high tunnel are distributed freely to the community. In addition to their orchard and pollinator garden, the OEEC landscape also features pervious pavement in the parking lot, a green roof, rain barrels, a water retention basin, a high tunnel, a playground, and more.
The indoor area, which used to be a Wine and Spirits Shoppe, currently is adorned with mosaics, has a café space, community gathering space, community art, classrooms, and an aquaponics demonstration in the works. They want OEEC to be “a third place beyond work and home”. Some of their classes include yoga, Zumba, line dancing, art, and cooking. They’ve recently acquired the building on the other side of the outdoor space as well and have plans to rehabilitate that to become a community wellness center. “I can see a difference in how people want to live”, says Shabazz. To learn more and get involved, visit the Overbrook Environmental Education Center website .
A grassy drainage swale is now a vibrant food forest with figs, cherries, and lots of flowers and herbs!
Orchard Report by Robyn Mello, POP Education & Outreach Director. 

POP Internship Program Grows!
POP expanded our internship program this year, with Alyssa Schimmel as our Outreach & Education Intern, Rachel Baltuch as our Gleaning & Education Intern, and Sophia Taylor and Steve Palder as our POP Orchard Interns for 2015.  We also had the privilege of working with Penn State Extension Service to host Nettie Baugher, a full time paid intern, for the first 10 weeks of summer.  POP interns have assisted with planting, orchard care, and outreach events; helped research orchard care articles for our listserv; and expanded POP’s social media presence.
The following is an excerpt from Nettie Baugher’s essay about her experience working with us:  

Taking a Bite Out of Philadelphia

I grew up on my family’s three-hundred acre fruit farm and nursery in Adams County, Pennsylvania, where I spent my summers working from middle school until I graduated from high school.  Working with POP has been so different than anything I’ve ever done in Adams County. When I first started with the Philadelphia Orchard Project, I found it was very hard to wrap my brain around the fact that its ultimate goal was not production based, but rather community outreach and education.

In many instances, the farm is seen as a welcoming gathering space in an impoverished neighborhood. High school students are able to come and learn about how to grow produce, and local citizens are able to learn about nutrition and healthy foods. Contributors to the gardens always seem so grateful and so thrilled about access to fresh produce and excited to try new fruits and vegetables. On POP’s website, you will find a video in which a volunteer is interviewed. I loved his response to one of the questions. He said, “[The community orchard] makes me feel connected. At one time I was a guy that was a part of the problem. I stopped being a part of the problem and started being a part of the solution. It brings me out here to get my hands and my knees dirty for the good of the community and for our future generations behind us.” POP helps to create an environment where the simple act of working the land brings people closer to their heritage and creates a stronger sense of community.

Read Nettie’s full essay here.  

POP Media and Support!
Wow did we have a busy spring!  This season POP was featured in the following media coverage:
POP also received the following new support:
  • $48,000 in capital funding from the Junior League of Philadelphia Blossom Fund for a demonstration orchard, high tunnel, and greenhouse at our future headquarters
  • $15,000 award in marketing services from Harte Hanks that will help us launch our new blog and website in September
  • Additional operating and program support from the Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, LL Charitable Foundation, Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial, Union Benevolent Association, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Garden Club of America
Picking strawberries at the 7th annual East Park Strawberry Festival!

How You Can Help! 
  • Donor/Volunteer Database: POP is looking for an experienced Drupal programmer to help us customize a CiviCRM database for tracking donors, volunteers, and more.  Looking for someone who is motivated by POP’s mission and will do good work at a fair price!  Please email phil@phillyorchards.org if interested.
  • POP Adminstrative/Development Assistant: If you love POP, dotting I’s and crossing T’s, then polish up your resume.  We expect to post a part time position later this summer, please wait to respond until you see this posting.
  • New POP board members: We’re looking to expand POP’s Board especially with individuals with experience in fundraising events, grantwriting, graphic design, HR, or corporate giving campaigns. Please email bolszak@phillyorchards.org if interested.
Donate to help plant new orchards this fall! 
We are anticipating at least 3 new orchards and a half dozen expansion plantings this fall.  Can you help us?  Consider a direct donation to POP of any size to ensure we have the resources to continue to expanding community orchards in Philadelphia:
Your Amazon purchases can benefit POP. . . at no cost to you. 
You can direct Amazon to give a percentage of all purchases to POP:
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 Robyn Mello (robyn@phillyorchards.org).  To assist our Events Committee with organizing fundraising events, tabling at events, or for info about hosting a house party for POP, please contact Deanna Jenkins (info@phillyorchards.org).  Experienced 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 Events
POP’s fall event season will be announced soon!  To 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 and support community orchards in the city of Philadelphia.

Phil Forsyth, Executive Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project