POP Newsletter Winter 2016

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“The peach tree in the Sayre Garden is famous. This year it produced over 150 lbs of peaches, and Ms. Angie–our longest subscribed CSA member who also happens to have roots in Georgia–says they were the best peaches she has ever had.”

–Miki Palchick, Sayre High School Orchard

We thank you for supporting our vision of a more beautiful, bountiful Philadelphia!
Here are some highlights from our fall season:
  • Planted our 1000th fruit tree and supported our 50th community orchard site!
  • Launched our new Philadelphia Orchard Project Blog and facebook page
  • Assisted with brand new orchard plantings at the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School, Lea Elementary, and Casa del Carmen.
  • Involved 2500 volunteers and participants in 51 events including orchard plantings, work days, workshops, tours, harvests, and festivals
  • Celebrated our 5th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with over 1800 participants at orchard sites across the city!
We hope you will take a few minutes to read below about some of the interesting people and stories we encountered along the way.  
Members of the Sayre High School farm crew with their famous peach tree!
Please read below for more info about POP’s latest efforts:
  • fall season summary
  • 2015 POP orchard survey results
  • POP orchard partner stories
  • POP in the news
  • annual appeal update
  • how you can help!

Fall 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 53 different orchard sites in neighborhoods across the city!  299 volunteers joined with us and our partners at 12 orchard planting events this fall.  Brand new orchards were planted with the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School in West Philly, Lea Elementary in West Philly, and Casa del Carmen Catholic Charities Service Center in North Philadelphia. We also expanded existing orchard sites at Solid Rock Church, Awbury Arboretum, Tilden Middle School, Historic Fair Hill, Teens 4 Good Poplar Farm, Woodford Mansion, Teens 4 Good Carousel Farm, and Bartram’s Garden. To read more about all our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.
At the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School in West Philly, the concrete schoolyard was depaved and then planted with fruit trees, berries, and pollinator gardens!
Harvest, Gleaning & Preservation.  Eight POPHarvest gleaning events were held during our fall season, where an estimated 3,600 pounds of fruit were harvested by nearly 300 volunteers for take home and for donation. An additional 50 gallons of fresh apple cider were pressed! We harvested apples from unused orchards and street trees, crabapples from UPenn, Asian pears from streets and backyards, ginkgos, persimmons, and trifoliate oranges from historic sites, and hawthorns from an urban farm. Stay up to date with 2016 harvesting events and become part of growing this program to make use of underutilized fruits by becoming a member of the POPHarvest listserv.
POPHarvest Apple Gleaning Taylor Farm 2015
Nearly 60 people gathered for the POPHarvest event at Taylors Farm in Cinnaminson, NJ to harvest apples from the overburdened trees, press cider, share food and stories, and tidy the orchard!
Orchard Education.  POP continues to train and educate our orchard partners through a diverse workshop series on orchard care and related topics, consulting visits by POP staff, and POP TIPS shared through thePhiladelphia Orchard Group (PHOG), our orchard education email listserv.  This fall, we added thePhiladelphia Orchard Project Blog to our website as an expanded, searchable resource for our partners and the general public.  Besides covering a wide range of orchard care topics, the blog will also feature content highlighting specific orchard plants, cooking and preservation techniques, interviews with POP partners and volunteers, and more!  Please join us for some upcoming workshops:
5th Annual Philadelphia Orchard Week.  This October we expanded Philadelphia Orchard Weekend into a full week, and over 1800 participants celebrated with us at orchard sites across the city. Events included orchard plantings, harvest festivals, apple picking, cider pressing, a plant sale, crafts and games, volunteer opportunities, and more!  POP also supported harvest festivals this fall at Solid Rock Church and the Overbrook Environmental Education Center.

2015 POP Orchard Survey Results
Our third annual partner survey showed several exciting trends reinforcing POP’s work in communities throughout Philadelphia and pointed out various improvements which can be made to enhance our programming and outreach. Orchards continue to be valued most highly as educational spaces and for their impact on community and environmental health, but more established orchards are increasingly being valued for their food production as plants continue to mature. This year our partners reported a 126% increase in the number of people who tasted something grown in a POP orchard and a 38% increase in the number of people who used an orchard as a gathering space! Though it’s difficult to accurately track yields when nearly 30% is harvested by community members for free consumption, partners reported orchard yield totals for the season 67% higher than in 2014–nearly 4,000 pounds. Combined with the 3,600 pounds volunteers picked in our POPHarvest program, that makes for a lot of fruit!  82% of POP partners participated in the survey this year and as a thank you, POP is distributing a requested orchard item, including pruning tools, pole harvesters, produce scales, and neem oil to all participants.

Philadelphia Orchard Week harvest festival at Historic Fair Hill.  In POP’s 2015 orchard survey, our partners reported that over 5800 people used POP orchards as community gathering spaces this year!
2015 Orchard Partner Stories
Every year we ask our orchard partners to reflect on the year in the orchard, and to share with us stories about what the orchard is providing for their community.
Our orchard is a place where curiosity grows, is nurtured and celebrated. Like a flock of birds chirping, I hear a chorus of “What’s that?!” and see wide open eyes when I tell them that the funny-looking little green knobs on those branches are going to be pears, or that the small, greenish brown, unappealing blobs over here are called figs and actually taste something like soft honey. Our students find amazement and fun every time they come into our garden orchard–a safe haven where children can be free to learn. I think you are doing great things for Philadelphia! Keep up the good work!”
Victoria Mehl, Garden Manager, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School

Tulpehocken Orchard: the miraculous power of community

In years gone by, those who rode SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail Line learned to recognize the Tulpehocken stop not by the sign on the station building but by the fact that for over thirty years the grounds around this historic station building had been a dump-a feral cat sanctuary and a tangle of junk trees, weeds (including poison ivy), logs, mattress inner springs, disabled appliances, tires, and fencing from previous garden plots now unrecognizable. It was even the proverbial “farm” to which unwanted pets are sent: there was a suitcase containing the remains of a dog!

Plant a fruit tree in celebration or honor of a loved one!
Plant trees to celebrate: birthdays, holidays, employee recognition, anniversaries, new births, graduations, Earth Day.

$60 plants a fruit tree in Philadelphia that can provide a community with 150 pounds of fruit per year for decades to come! Give a gift that keeps giving back.

POP in the News!
This season POP was featured in the following media coverage:

Board Elections

POP’s Board of Directors elected new officers in December 2015: President Aron Goldschneider, President-Elect Bertina Whytehead, Treasurer Brian Olszak, and Secretary Martha Moffat.  We heartily thank our outgoing officers and look forward to continued organizational growth under the new!

Annual Appeal Update
Thank you again to everyone who helped us during our annual appeal campaign this year! Together we were able to raise $16,352, which supports our work maintaining these community spaces of beauty and bounty, educating volunteers and orchard enthusiasts, and installing new orchards in the city of Philadelphia. We are still just shy of our $20,000 goal, and you can help us get there by making a tax-deductible donation today!
Other Ways You Can Help!
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 blog content, 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 Tanya Grinblat (tanya@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).
Sincerely,

Phil Forsyth, Executive Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project