“Many families, staff and volunteers were able to taste a fresh fig for the first time! They were all surprised at the difference between a fresh fig and a fig newton.” — Carolann Costa, Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

Happy Figuary!  We thank you for supporting our vision of a more beautiful, bountiful Philadelphia. Here are some highlights from POP’s fall season: 

  • Planted our 1,206th fruit tree and supported our 59th community orchard site!
  • Celebrated our 7th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with over 1800 participants at harvest festivals and orchard events across the city
  • Assisted with brand new orchard plantings with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and South Philadelphia High School
  • POP’s new school orchard program published our first complete orchard-based lesson plan
  • Celebrated POP’s 10th Anniversary and were featured in PHS’s GROW Magazine
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’s core work of planting and supporting community orchards in the city continues to grow, and we are now working with 59 different orchard sites in neighborhoods across the city! 204 volunteers joined with us and our partners at 14 orchard planting events this fall. Brand new orchards were planted with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and South Philadelphia High School. We also expanded existing orchard sites at Bartram’s Garden, Tilden Middle School, Bartram High School, Pastorius Community Gardens, Monumental Baptist Church, Lea Elementary, Sayre High School, Penn Park, and Jewish Farm School. To read more about our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.


2017 was the kickoff year for POP’s new School Orchard Program. Education Director Alyssa Schimmel collaborated with POP’s 12 city school orchard partners to begin developing a database of materials to activate the orchards as centers of learning and exploration. Across all sites, POP was able to teach 250 students through 44 school visits, with 14 formal lessons delivered in 2017. Read more about POP’s new school orchard program here! 


POP continues to educate our orchard partners through diverse offerings including orchard care workshops, consulting visits by POP staff, POP TIPS shared through the Philadelphia Orchard Group (PHOG), and the Philadelphia Orchard Project Blog. This season’s educational programs included workshops on jam-making, fruit tree care, permaculture, and harvest and use of orchard plants. Join us for our upcoming 4-part POPCORE orchardist training course at Bartram’s Garden in March!


This year we celebrated our 7th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with over 1800 participants at orchard sites across the city. Events included orchard plantings, work days, harvest festivals, cider pressing, plant sale, crafts and games, volunteer opportunities, and more!  In addition to POP’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in September, we also kicked off the holiday season with a Winter Wassailing event at Awbury Arboretum in December. Join us for our first ever Fig Fest coming up on February 24!


Every year we ask our orchard partners to reflect on the year in the orchard, and to share stories about what the orchard is providing for their community:

“We have three sweet cherry trees that had a great harvest this year. Fruit gets a lot more attention & excitement than vegetables, which spread to our surrounding community. The cherry harvesting was a large gathering event, and we had people of all ages picking off cherries. Many people did not know that cherries came from trees. A lot of neighborhood children got to climb the tree to pick off the cherries, which one of them told me was a “magical experience”.

— Marta Lynch, FNC Poplar Learning Farm

Read more partner stories here!

2017 Orchard Partner Survey Summary

Results of our 5th annual partner survey provided valuable feedback showing the impact of POP’s programs and guiding our efforts to provide the best support to our partners. This year ‘Beauty and Neighborhood Greening’ was rated as the highest value of the orchard spaces. Partners reported 4385 individuals participated in caring for POP orchards in 2017 (twice last year’s total); another 4681 tasted something grown in a POP orchard; and 5386 used them as a gathering space. The survey again showed that almost all orchard produce is distributed within the neighborhood where it’s grown, including 57% harvested by or given for free to community members. POP partners reported total harvests of 3689 pounds of orchard produce. 81% 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 guidebooks to all participants.

Read more survey results here!

POP Blog

POP’s urban orchard blog continues to cover a variety of topics in ecological orchard care as well as highlight our plants, programs, partners, and volunteers.  You can follow our blog or search it for past topics.  Some recent posts include:

POP Orchard Feature: Jewish Farm School

POP History 2016 & Volunteer Highlight: Angelina Conti

POP History 2015 & Volunteer Highlight: Tony Dorman

POP Fig Varieties and Introducing Megan Brookens: A Fellow Fig Lover!

POP History 2014 & Volunteer Highlight: Ryan Kuck

Fall Foraging: Crabapples and Gingko Nuts and Leaves


Your Amazon purchases can benefit POP at no cost to you. 

You can direct Amazon to give a percentage of all purchases to POP.

Workplace donations through United Way, Earthshare, Benevity

POP can now accept workplace donations via United Way (#53494), Earthshare, and Benevity: ask your employer about how to set up tax-exempt contributions and matching donations to support our work. We are also now able to accept stock transfers, so you can divest, and then invest in planting the future with 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 Alyssa Schimmel (alyssa@phillyorchards.org). To assist our Events Committee with organizing fundraising events or helping with outreach activities, 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 Michael (michael@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).

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.