“The Philadelphia Orchard Project offered me many opportunities to work with a wide range of people to share my passion for teaching and working with plants. ”
-Kevin Stutler, 2013 Golden Persimmon Volunteer
In honor of the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we’re looking back at a different year in our history every month. We’re also designating Golden Persimmon Awards for each year in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers.
POP VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT: Kevin Stutler
In his years volunteering with POP, I often referred to Kevin Stutler as POP’s #1 Volunteer and threatened to make him special t-shirts with puns like ‘BORN TO pRUNe!’. Kevin rates easily as one of POP’s all time most useful volunteers, despite being on permanent disability and suffering from a chronic disease of the nervous system. He came out to help in any and every way he could, whenever his body would allow for it, often fighting through pain to help pull weeds, prune trees, pot up plants, and much more. A true hero.
Beyond his heroic physical efforts, Kevin happened to be one of few people on the planet with significant experience in maintaining a large scale temperate permaculture orchard. Before moving to Philadelphia, he spent 7 years maintaining a diverse, mature food forest orchard planting on 7 acres just outside of Eugene, Oregon. In addition to teaching me a lot of what I know about orchard care, Kevin led many POP workshops over the years on topics including pruning, vermicomposting, mushroom cultivation, and grape trellis construction. At one of his compost tea workshops, he famously unintentionally drank some of the brew- a good lesson on how not to use it in the garden!
Kevin is also a self-styled ‘Appalachian Engineer’, raised in Southeast Ohio and capable of fixing any mechanical issue with ingenuity and thrift. He would routinely fix up POP’s tools, wheelbarrows, and other equipment, often coming up with novel improvements in the process. Kevin’s obsession with the best tools (especially interesting ones of Japanese origin) helped influence POP’s supply over the years. With the help from a small grant, he designed and built an automated micro-sprinkler irrigation system for POP’s edible plant nursery, simultaneously improving plant health and reducing water use.
Kevin Stutler served on POP’s Orchard Committee and as lead orchard liaison for Awbury Arboretum and the Carousel House from approximately 2013 to 2016. He moved back to Ohio in 2016 to be closer to his family, but we were thrilled to have him back to celebrate POP’s 10th Anniversary in September 2017.
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.