The end of September brought the return of two POP events: our online program, with new videos shared about our progress at the Learning Orchard, award presentations to this year’s honorees, partner updates, and remarks from elected officials. We also spent a beautiful fall day at the POP Learning Orchard at the Woodlands, welcoming around 200 guests who toured the orchard and nursery, pressed fresh cider, enjoyed some music in the pine grove, and sampled seasonal harvests and other treats. 

On September 23, 2021, the online Orchard Celebration returned, with wonderful videos filmed and edited by POP team members Sharon Appiah and Corrie Spellman-Lopez (the full playlist can be viewed here). As in 2020, we started out with an update on progress at the Learning Orchard and nursery; watch and see what Phil Forsyth and Alkebu-Lan Marcus had to share here. Since last year, the trees and other plantings have continued to mature, with harvests already available from the figs, asparagus, raspberries, blackberries, and chokeberries. The berry garden was improved with the construction of a beautiful arbor and a trellis system made of cedar, which is naturally rot resistant and has a longer lifespan than fir or pine. Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer designed the arbor and trellis, and led other POP staff and volunteers in installing them (during a heat wave, no less!). 

This year, we’ve hosted a number of elected officials in person at the Learning Orchard, with visits from Councilmembers Kendra Brooks and Katherine Gilmore Richardson and members of their teams. We also hosted a visit and tour for the State Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, as part of Urban Agriculture Week; accompanying him were State Representatives Rick Krajewski, Danilo Burgos, and Chris Rabb. With support from the PA Farm Bill, POP will be able to complete the construction of two high tunnels and make further improvements to the plant nursery at our headquarters at The Woodlands. For this year’s annual Orchard Celebration, State Rep. Krajewski (who represents the 188th District, where the Woodlands is located) and at-large Councilmember Gilmore Richardson both provided congratulatory messages: you can view that video here. Another new tradition of the online Orchard Celebration is a compilation of video updates from some of our 66 community orchard partners: that video can be found below.

Community orchard partners from Bartram’s Garden, Awbury Food Forest, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, FNC Philly, South Philly
High School and Monumental Baptist Church provided updates for the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 2021 Orchard Celebration.

We welcomed many visitors during the open house, including a large group from the Penn Outdoors Club and a group of cyclists from the Bicycle Coalition. Some of POP’s Lead Orchard Volunteers were also able to attend for a brief ceremony and presentation by Phil Forsyth in recognition of the 2021 Golden Persimmon Award. Purple Fig awardee Meei Ling Ng attended and made some brief remarks (an award presentation filmed on site at Union Baptist Church Garden of Eden can be viewed here). Throughout the day of the open house, several tours of the Learning Orchard and nursery were provided by POP staff, with more frequent public tours planned for 2022. Visitors were also able to relax and enjoy some music in the pine grove with jazz duets by Martronimous and Keir Neuringer.

Lead Orchard Volunteer Trae Mohammed accepts the Golden Persimmon award on behalf of all the 2021 awardees. Award presented by Phil Forsyth.

Guests helped POP staff and volunteers press fresh apple cider made from regionally-grown apples provided by Riverwards Produce. Other treats included ice cream sandwiches from Weckerly’s (“End of Summer” with local honey and mint, and “Vanilla Cardamom Goldenberry” made with ground cherries grown at the POP Learning Orchard: both flavors were a huge hit); juneberry kombucha from Funky Fresh, made from juneberries harvested by POP volunteers; and four delicious varieties of cider by Germantown’s Young American Hard Cider. Snacks from Weavers Way Coop supplemented fruit samples from POP partners: pawpaws, Asian pears, and hazelnuts from Henry Got Crops farm at Saul High School; jujubes from Sankofa Farm at Bartram’s Garden; figs from the backyard tree of POP’s co-director Phil; and hardy almonds from the Penn Park Farm. Learn more about some of the unusual fruits that were sampled in this post from POP’s blog!

This year POP was grateful for the support of some new sponsors of the annual Orchard Celebration, and the return of past supporters like Penn Medicine and MOM’s Organic. New supporters The Rounds, a low-waste delivery service for household and pantry staples, also tabled at the event, introducing their service and providing samples to attendees. Support from the Orchard Celebration furthers POP’s year-round work at the Learning Orchard and with our 66 community orchard partners. Didn’t get to attend the Open House but still want to make a gift? Visit our website and make your one-time or recurring monthly gift today.

This blog post was written by POP Co-Executive Director Kim Jordan.

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: