So far this year, POP has harvested 207 lbs of fresh organic fruit through the POPHarvest program through 10 Juneberry Joy events, 2 wineberry walks, 2 cherry harvests, and 2 mulberry harvests. Through POPHarvestEd, two workshops were held so far this year with several more on the calendar in the coming months!

Ripe juneberry fruit on the tree

Juneberry Joy
Our annual Juneberry Joy harvest campaign engaged 91 volunteers this year, who picked 90 lbs of delicious native fruit 10 events in neighborhoods across the city. Commonly planted as street trees and landscape plants, the juneberry packs a powerful amount of antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. We partnered with 8 Philadelphia businesses to utilize the harvest for creative culinary creations and increase awareness of this abundant local harvest and POP’s work. There is no way we could harvest all of the Juneberries in Philly, but we see more and more people picking and enjoying them every year, as noted in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer!

Children help to harvest juneberries at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center

Abundantly Available Early Fruits
This year, we continued to harvest abundant city fruits that are considered to be weeds with our Mulberry Madness and Wineberry Walks. While the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is native to North America, it and other species of mulberries self-seed readily and establish in untended spaces, often being found in vacant lots, back yards, and on fence lines. Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) is an Asian species of raspberry that was brought to North America in the 1890’s as breeding stock for new cultivars. It escaped into the wild and is now found in most states east of the Mississippi River. Birds love these fruits and distribute the seeds, causing them to pop up all over the area, including around the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center. The more of these delicious fruit we can pick and eat, the fewer new plants will result!

A group of mulberry-stained hands following a successful harvest at The Woodlands

POPHarvestEd Update
We’re now in our second season offering POPHarvestEd, hosting community teachers from a range of traditions to lead gleaning & education workshops geared around underutilized fruits, herbs, and nuts of our orchards. This spring we were delighted to host Jeannie Gerth for Japanese Knotweed Harvest & Processing at Awbury Arboretum’s Agricultural Village, and Nyambi Royster at One Art Community Center for her class on thyme and Caribbean Heritage Cooking.

Taste of Africa culinary educator, herbalist, and grower Nyambi Royster serves up red beans with coconut milk, garlic, and thyme, along with massaged kale & collard salad at steamed rice at her POPHarvestED class on Caribbean Heritage Cooking at One Art Community Center.

This summer, we’ll also be hosting classes on storytelling surrounding mint with Hungry food educator Megan Haupt and on fennel uses for medicine, food, and in queer history with K Is for Kitchen founders Frances Rose Sibbondo and Acorn Swiggum. Later this fall, we’re planning to release 2 brewing workshops utilizing wild yeast and making hard crabapple jack and cider. Stay tuned! If you’re interested in leading a community workshop, reach out to Education Director Alyssa Schimmel (alyssa@phillyorchards.org) and Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer (michael@phillyorchards.org).

Fall Fruits Coming Up!
As we near to fall, we look forward to more urban bounties with crabapples, hawthorns, and persimmons, so stay tuned and join our POPHarvest emails to get notified! We also aim to bring you educational experiences with urban harvests that benefit from processing like with trifoliate orange, crabapple, black walnut, ginkgo, and acorns through our POPHarvestED program.

Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer and former Orchard Apprentice Greg Hample harvest crabapples with volunteers on the University of Pennsylvania campus (Fall 2018)

This POP program update written by Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer with additional content on POPHarvestEd by Alyssa Schimmel. 

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