ISSUE BRIEFING: Threats to Honeybee & Native Bee Populations and What You Can Do!

Posted on Categories Beneficial Insects, Blog, Home, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , ,

This issue briefing comes to us from Daria Syskine and Bethany Bronkema, two of the four student researchers from Swarthmore who spent 10 weeks with POP this spring researching and developing resources for our School Orchard Program on addressing threatened pollinator habitat.  This is an issue vital to POP, as nearly all of our fruit crops are dependent on insect allies like bees for successful pollination and fruit production.  

Think “bee,” and you’ll probably picture the familiar European honeybee (Apis mellifera) – small, with gold and black bands across its belly. But before the European honeybee was introduced to North America, there were already 4,000 species of bees on this continent.

Pennsylvania is home to 300 native varieties of bees – including: large, fuzzy bumblebees (Bombus spp.) that love crops that honeybees can’t pollinate — blueberries, tomatoes, orchard crops; tiny, solitary iridescent sweat bees (Halictus spp.) that often snack on alfalfa, onion, and cane berry flowers; leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.); squash bees (Peponapis pruinosa); mason bees (Osmia spp.); mining bees (Andrena spp.); and more!

Although each of these varieties of bees have different life cycles and habitat needs – bumblebees, for example, live in small, perennial colonies with a queen and worker bees, while other types of bees are mostly solitary – they all rely on flower nectar and pollen for their food. 


From top to bottom: a bumblebee, squash bee, and a sweat bee. Photos credit: PSU Extension

Since native bees tend to specialize in a few plants, they help preserve local biodiversity while also filling in the gaps left by honeybee pollination. In fact, one study showed that on farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, wild bees provided most of the pollination for the studied crops; and unlike rented honeybee colonies, their services are free for farmers!

Unfortunately, native bees like their honeybee counterparts are under siege, and are experiencing sizable declines in their populations. Notably, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recently placed the rusty-patched bumblebee on their endangered list.

One major threat to bees is the overuse of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, a class of neuro-active insecticides that disrupts the central nervous systems of insects and is commonly found being used in seed coatings (especially with corn, soy), ornamental plants, and as a pest-management spray. Their use has been linked to declines in bumblebee and honeybee populations, and studies have suggested that they may be harmful to mammals as well. Following a 2012 study by the European Food Safety Association sponsored by the European Commission, 8 nations of the European Union issued a ban on the insecticide, and in 2018 a total ban was issued, except within closed greenhouses. In 2014, under the Obama administration,
the United States EPA took action to regulate the insecticide based on concerns about pollinators, which has been reversed under the current administration. 

A warming climate, habitat fragmentation, spreading fungal and bacterial diseases are also all contributing to increasingly vulnerable bee populations. 

There are actions even individual gardens and farms can make a difference by becoming more bee-friendly. If you have a small garden, you can grow plants that flower at different times throughout the year; this supports a more diverse population of bees, since different bees are active at different times in the season. If you’re a farmer, you can let cover crops go to seed–this supports bee populations by providing flowers for them to collect pollen from. You can also use caution in choosing where you plant – many bees make nests in the ground, so planting in sunny, south-facing sloped ground could damage these nests. Minimizing the mowing of long grasses in meadows is helpful, as well as not removing excessive amounts of weeds. And whether you’re a home gardener or a farmer, you can probably afford to reduce your pesticide use by turning to integrated pest management instead.

Finally, everyone can plant more natives. Since native plants have co-evolved with native bees, it’s an ideal pairing. Introducing more of these plants for wild bees to pollinate will also increase the support of the bee population. Many beautiful varieties are available for any Pennsylvania garden, from red columbines to Virginia bluebells to showy goldenrod.


From top to bottom: a bumblebee on Culver’s root,
a European honeybee on Ohio spiderwort; and a bumblebee on wild bergamot. Photos from
PSU Extension.

If you’re not sure where to start, a lot of resources are available. Pennsylvania recently published the Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan, which lays out ways to protect native bee populations, among other native pollinators. It contains detailed information and resources for suburban homeowners, farmers, and municipal planners. Penn State has also started a Pollinator Garden Certification program. By following the steps outlined on their website, you can transform your garden into a haven for bumblebees. The Pennsylvania Native Plant Society is another great resource on local efforts to expand and support native plantings. For additional advice on region-specific issues, the Xerces Society’s list of resources offers many options.

You could also consider getting involved on a national scale. The Xerces Society has started a campaign called Bring Back the Pollinators, in which participants pledge to make their gardens more pollinator-friendly; they also run Bumblebee Watch, a citizen science group to track North American bee populations and collect data for conservation purposes. The Pollinator Partnership is a nonprofit running many different programs across North America, all with the goal of protecting pollinator populations. 

So next time you’re taking a walk outside, stop and smell the roses… and take a minute to be grateful for the many species bees our lives rely upon!

Resources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/02/rusty-patched-bumblebee-endangered-species/514388/

https://extension.psu.edu/conserving-wild-bees-in-pennsylvania

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/

https://www.phillyvoice.com/delco-one-few-remaining-homes-endangered-rusty-patched-bumblebee/

https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-pennsylvania-pollination-plan-20170929-story.html

https://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/pollin-spotlight-items/the-pennsylvania-pollinator-protection-plan-p4

https://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/public-outreach/cert

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01418.x

https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/pa-nj-native-bee-benefits1.pdf

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/EHP515

https://www.the-scientist.com/daily-news/neonicotinoids-may-harm-wild-bees-33019

This POP Blog Post was written by 2019 Swarthmore student researchers Daria Syskine and Bethany Bronkema.  

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.

Fruit Thinning & Recipes for Unripe Thinned Plums

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Orchard Care, Recipes, School Orchards & Curriculum, Tree CareTags , , , ,
Dietitian Cathy Dorazio of Overbrook School for the Blind thins green plums from one of the fully loaded plum trees in the school orchard.

This time of year, most common fruit trees need thinning as they tend to overproduce fruit. Many work days that POP participates in this time of year from April – mid-June often involve thinning fruit trees to keep them healthy. The fruit that is thinned is often inedible as it needs to be thinned before it is fully ripened. However, in the case of thinned plums, and likely other fruitlets, simply cooking them down in a few forms can reduce their bitterness and transform them into a pleasant, tart addition to many recipes.

POP intern Bethany Bronkema and Overbrook’s Cathy pose with their bucket of thinned plums that they’ll incorporate into recipes at home and with the students!

Before looking at possible recipes for these green plums, it is important to know how to best thin your fruit to keep your tree healthy.  New fruit trees, meaning those planted last fall or this spring, need to have all of their fruit taken off of them to give them a chance to grow strong roots and establish themselves in the ground. Some fruit trees, like apples, pears, peaches, plums, and apricots need to be thinned out every year.  

For apples and pears, the fruit should be thinned to around 5 inches apart (roughly the distance between your outstretched pinkie finger and thumb). For peaches, that distance should be closer to 8 inches. With plums and apricots, it is necessary to thin the fruit to a few inches apart, 2-3″, to protect the branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit.

Some trees fruit in clusters.  For clusters, you should remove all but one fruit in clusters spaced the proper distance apart. Fruitlets from healthy trees can be composted on site in a hot compost pile, 120-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Fruitlets coming from trees that have previously had pest or diseases issues such as codling moth, brown rot, various types of scab or other conditions, should be bagged to trash off-site.

After you have thinned out your plum trees, check out the recipes below for some ideas on how to use the fruit!

Green Plum Jam:

One common recipe to make with sour fruit is to add a bit of sugar and cook it down into a jam. The first recipe utilizes the natural sourness of the green plums to make a nice tart jam that can be used on toast, stirred into yogurt, and in many other capacities!

For this simple recipe, only two ingredients are required. As even the unripe plums naturally contain a lot of liquid, simply cooking the plums in some sugar will produce a tasty result. Find the recipe below!

Ingredients:

1 cup green plums, thinly diced

¾ cup granulated sugar

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Step 1: Add the diced green plums and the sugar to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally until the plums soften and the whole mixture starts to thicken.

Step 3: Continue reducing the mixture until it reaches the desired consistency.  

Note: The jam will thicken considerably after it is removed from the heat, so remove it when it still seems a little runny.  If you over-reduce the jam (it hardens too much after cooling), simply reheat it with some added water to improve the consistency.  

Jam should be refrigerated after cooling and will keep for several weeks. If you’d like to can your jam for long-term storage, here’s a good primer on the basics of canning:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2012/02/how-to-can-canning-pickling-preserving-ball-jars-materials-siphoning-recipes.html

Mini Blueberry Plum Galettes:

One fun idea is to use these plums as a lift to other baked summer fruit desserts.  Many fruit desserts often call for a squeeze of lemon juice to lift the flavor, and these green plums are a perfect substitute for that zesty boost.

These mini blueberry plum galettes combine the sour flavor of the green plums with the sweetness of blueberries, all encased in a pastry shell.  A yummy summer treat, the recipe is found below!

Ingredients: for 4 mini galettes

For the filling:

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup green plums, diced

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbs cornstarch

For the pastry shells:

Note: Feel free to substitute your favorite pie or pastry dough recipe

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbs granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cubed

¼ cup water, iced

1 beaten egg (optional), for egg wash

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F

Step 2: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt for the pastry shells.

Step 3: Add the butter in small cubes to the flour mixture and, using two knives or your fingers, break the butter up into the dough.

Step 4: Slowly add in the water and form the dough into a rough ball. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Note: The dough can also be prepared by adding the flour, sugar, salt and butter to a food processor and mixing, and then adding the water.  

Step 5: Prepare the filling by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl and then letting it sit for 5-10 minutes.  

Step 6: Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each out individually into a small circle about ¼ inch thick.  

Step 7: Divide the filling and pile an equal amount into the center of each dough circle.

Step 8: Moving around the edge of the circle, fold the edges over the fruit filling until each galette is fully sealed.  Egg wash the pastry shells if desired.

Note: To help with the folding process, make the galettes on small pieces of parchment paper and use the paper to fold the dough into the correct shape.

Step 9: Place galettes onto a greased baking tray and bake at 375°F for 25-30 mins or until golden brown.  

Green Plum Morning Muffins:

Great for breakfast or a quick snack, these muffins take the best qualities of the green plums and combine them with healthy oats and whole wheat flour for a hearty result that is a great start to any day!  

Ingredients: for 12 muffins

2 cup green plums, chopped

1 egg

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup rolled oats

1 tsp baking soda


1 tsp cinnamon


2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

1 cup milk

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F

Step 2: Combine the chopped green plums, egg, brown sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Let sit during the next step.  Note: Sugar and salt are desiccants.  They will draw moisture out of the green plums while they are sitting in this mixture and begin the softening process of the hard fruit.

Step 3: In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and whole wheat flour.  

Step 4: Add the oil and milk to the plum mixture and stir to combine.

Step 5: Pour the plum mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  

Step 6: Divide the muffin mixture into a 12-piece muffin tin (I like to use an ice cream scoop to do this evenly) and bake at 350°F for 30-35 mins.

While it is good orchard care practice to thin fruit trees as it helps the trees produce sweet, healthy fruit, it sometimes seems unfortunate to have to then get rid of these large quantities of thinned fruit.  In putting these recipes together, I considered how other fruits or vegetables that are naturally hard, sour, and bitter (such as rhubarb) are used in baking to produce delicious products. Feel free to try out these ideas, as well as experiment on your own with how thinned fruit can add a new twist to your favorite recipes!

This POP Blog Post was written by 2019 POP Intern Bethany Bronkema.  

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.


Introducing POP’s Bilingual Rainbow Nutrition & Recipe Cards — Available for Download

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Plants, POPharvests, Recipes, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , ,

In surveying our 62 orchard partners through our annual orchard partner survey, we heard that some fruit gets picked before it’s ripe and that some partners wanted more information to share with their community members on how to harvest, store, and prepare common or native fruits of their orchards. This feedback has been pretty common to hear for us, as developing fruit on the tree inspires the natural curiosity (& hunger) of many, checking to see when the fruit is ripe and ready to eat!

In response to this, POP has developed 2 sets of bi-lingual Rainbow Nutrition & Recipe cards for use by community partners, teachers, and culinary educators alike  — focused on common fruits of the orchard (and ones likely to be found in grocery stores and some corner-store markets), as well as on native fruits of our region, and ones that are easy to cultivate and care for in small or home-scale spaces. Inspired by conversations with Penn State Nutrition Links’ nutritionist and educator Suzanne Weltman, these cards can be considered the first installment of other series of collectible recipe cards that be expanded by other organizations to include herbs and/or vegetables.

These cards also fit into POP’s CORE: Community Orchard Resilience Education series with POP CORE 3: Plants, Fungi, and What To Do With Them (offered twice yearly in March and September — check out our upcoming session on March 19th) covering how to make use of seasonal harvests and POPHarvestEd, now in our second year, which welcomes community teachers to lead workshops on under-known plants of the orchards with hands-on and take-home harvest, food and/or group medicine-making!

Children plant bare root strawberries along with POP Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer at Casa del Carmen, last spring 2018.

In an effort to make our materials accessible to a wider community, we offer them in English and Spanish. We offer our gratitude to orchard partners Camille Crane of Casa del Carmen for translation assistance and Gabriella Vechio of the Master Gardener Pollinator Garden, Food Forest Orchard, and Edible Demonstration Garden at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center for offering help with proofreading.

Gabriela Vecino is a Penn State Master Gardener trainee 2018-19, whose interest in native plants, pollinator habitats, and wild life refuges has inspired her to volunteer in three garden projects at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. Originally from Uruguay, Gabriela moved in 2003 to Minnesota with her family where she lived for 5 years, and while working at the UofM learned about the extension programs and joined the community or growers! 

The cards have been uploaded to our Resource Pages for your use, and POP will be printing a run of the cards to use in our School Orchard program and available during tabling events for a small donation. We also plan to share these materials with other organizations working to offer nutrition programming in communities throughout the city.

Have a creative idea for you or your organization would like to make use of these cards in your programming? Tell us! We’d love to share your stories and experiences. Have a recipe to share? Email Education Director Alyssa Schimmel at alyssa@phillyorchards.org to share your recipes and stories through our blog or printed materials.

This POP Blog Post was drafted by POP Education Director Alyssa Schimmel.  

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

Supporting Threatened Pollinator Habitats & Introducing our Swarthmore Student Researcher Team

Posted on Categories Beneficial Insects, Blog, Home, POP Orchards, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , ,

We here at POP are excited to share that we have been paired with 4 student researchers from Swarthmore College, who will be working with us over 8 weeks through POP’s School Orchard Program to create educational materials around building habitat for threatened pollinator species.

Over the course of these 8 weeks, students will have a range of research-based and hands-on learning activities including researching and writing issue-briefings, interviewing professionals in the fields of pollinator habitat loss and restoration, writing lesson plans, starting seedlings for pollinator-friendly species to distribute to community partners at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center’s Community Propagation Program, and hosting a seed-ball making workshop to share ready-to-grow seeds and info-sheets to community partners, volunteers, and the wider public.

The students are enrolled in Professor Elizabeth Susan Bolton and Associate Professor Christopher Graves’ Spring 2019 ‘Intro to Environmental Studies’ class, which provides a broad introduction to the interdisciplinary work of environmental studies through an historical lens and examines options for action using tools from the sciences and social sciences. Built around the themes of tragedy of the commons, rights and environmental justice, sustainable development, population growth and tipping points, global climate change science and debate, and community adaptation and resilience, among others, students in this course are matched up with local environmental organizations to gain hands-on experience in the direct services of community-powered environmental work.

Since 2007, The Philadelphia Orchard Project has been working with community partners throughout the city to plant community orchards filled with fruiting trees, shrubs, and companion plantings of useful, perennial herbs that fill out the orchard understory, providing nectar sources for a variety of honeybees, native bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and other beneficial insects that support fruit pollination and the wider ecosystem. Now in our 12th year, POP has planted 1,258 trees to date; 2,784 shrubs and vines; 20,111 perennial flowers, herbs and ground covers; and supports 62 orchards throughout the city — and, we’re growing!

A richly planted orchard understory at Penn Park Orchard with swamp milkweed supporting monarch butterflies, bronze fennel for various species of wasps, echinacea, a vital food source for a number of bird species, and anise hyssop, beloved by honeybees.

POP officially launched its School Orchard Program in 2017 with the hiring of Alyssa Schimmel, twice-term POP intern, to provide more direct support to school orchard partners in making use of their school’s orchards with standards-based curriculum focused on environmental stewardship and subject integration in natural sciences, nutrition & food science, art, reading, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, social sciences, and math.

POP actively supports 13 school orchard partners with quarterly seasonal care and once or twice(*) quarterly lessons at schools including William L. Sayre High School(*), Overbrook School for the Blind(*), Henry C. Lea Elementary School(*),William Cramp School(*), William T. Tilden Middle School, John Bartram High School, Albert M. Greenfield School, , South Philadelphia High School,  John F. Hartranft School, Philadelphia Montessori School, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School, Penn Alexander School, and the Philadelphia School District’s Fox Chase Farm. Since its launch, POP’s School Orchard Program has offered 40 lessons and has made 690 student impressions.

Through POP’s website, we have created and continue to offer downloadable lesson plan packs for teachers at our sites and across the city available through our Curriculum Resources and POP Handouts & Resources pages. 

In response to growing reports of widespread insect and pollinator population decline from restoration ecologists, entomologists, plant ecologists, and researchers including organizations like Xerces Society, which manages the largest pollinator conservation program in the world, POP’s School Orchard Program decided to focus on one of our long-held priorities of supporting pollinator habitat with building out curriculum resources for teachers at our partners sites and across the city. As part of this project, POP will also be showcasing the work of several local experts in the field working in our region on this issue and creating grade-level appropriate lesson plans for early-elementary, middle, high school, and special needs students.  

Johnny’s Selected Seeds has signed on to support this initiative through their Charitable Giving Program. They’ll be providing beneficial insect seed mixes to POP, allowing us to make and distribute seed balls to school and orchard partners throughout the city, and we’ll be working to support Doug Sponsler of the Center for Pollinator Research‘s work on wild nesting bees by encouraging 50-100 garden or orchard partners to place bee hotels in their landscape and collect data on nesting patterns toward their citizen science data collection. The program will take place on March 16th at the Education Center of Awbury Arboretum’s Agricultural Village from 10am-1pm. 

We’ll be posting updates in our program’s progress to the blog, so follow along! If you’re interested in getting involved in this work, in helping us craft seed-balls, claim bee hotels for your orchard site, or distribute info packs to community groups, and/or our school or community orchard partners, please email Education Director Alyssa Schimmel, alyssa@phillyorchards.org.

Now, to introduce you to our student researcher team!

Aaron Urquidez  

I am from Phoenix, Arizona but am currently a student at Swarthmore College. I love the outdoors, watching the sunrise, and sun bathing. While outdoors my favorite activities are running, hiking, and camping. As a first year I am very excited about getting out into the larger community to help volunteer with low-income communities. I am very interested in learning how to cultivate an orchard and watch the flowers blossom. Not only do I wish to educate children from local schools, but I hope that they can teach me more about myself and my passions.

Bethany Bronkema

Hi! My name is Bethany Bronkema and I am a freshman at Swarthmore College.  I am interested in majoring in Engineering and Environmental Studies. I’m from Strasburg, Pennsylvania, a small town in Lancaster County.  Because of this background, I have some experiences in small-scale agriculture and love being outdoors, especially while hiking or working in my garden.  I am very excited to experience the ways that agriculture can be implemented in urban environments. I am also interested in learning about pollinators and how they can affect fruit production locally.  

Momi / Cecilia Jeschke

I’m Cecilia Jeschke but I go by Momi, I am from Hilo, Hawaii where the conservation of native species and ecosystems is crucial. I attend Swarthmore college, where I am studying environmental engineering. I am hoping to get more exposure to the types of programs Pennsylvania has through the Philadelphia Orchard Project, and learn more about how the conservation and restoration of species is handled in an urban setting.


Here’s a photo of me posing with a particularly tall pine-drop plant, while backpacking in the Sierra Nevada!

Daria Syskine

My name is Daria Syskine. I’m a student at Swarthmore, and I’m very excited to be joining the Philadelphia Orchard Project as part of our Intro to Environmental Studies class! My long-term goal is to become a researcher in ecology and/or conservation biology. I’ve had a bit of experience with outdoors education already. I volunteered for several years in a nature center at a local park; during that time I was a curator and docent, answering visitor’s questions about local ecology, designing displays on food webs and biodiversity, and giving talks to school students during the park’s summer camp. I’m hoping that by participating in POP, I’ll get to use and improve my communication skills for environmental issues. And I’m looking forward to learn a lot about permaculture, urban ecology, orchard care, and environmental justice in Philadelphia. Most of all, I’m happy for the opportunity to get engaged with the POP community and the wider Philadelphia community!

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.  

2018 School Orchard Program Recap & A Look Ahead to 2019

Posted on Categories Blog, Home, POP Orchards, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , ,

In 2018, POP’s School Orchard Program continued to expand in offering unique, engaging, and hands-on learning activities for students, centered in 9 of 12 POP partner school orchards. In total, we offered 26 unique topical lessons, created 6 downloadable lesson and material packs for teachers to use in their classrooms, made 440 total student impressions through staff visits and lesson plan delivery, and created pre- and post-school year surveys to collect orchard metrics that have value for structuring our programming. All of our delivered programming is centered around our school partners’ learning objectives of those of their students and communities.

Last year, we developed and delivered lessons on key orchard fruits and pollinator orchard herbs like blackberries, persimmons, bee balm, anise hyssop, and thyme, that have high nutrient and medicinal value, are well-adapted to this growing region, propagate easily, and have promise for small-scale home or community food production. Students at Sayre High School in West Philly and Richard Allen Preparatory School learned the Japanese traditional persimmon string-drying method of hoshigaki. We experimented with the astringent Hachiya and non-astringent Fuyu varieties, finding them to work equally as well, and less so with the American persimmon, whose softer flesh makes it better suited for puddings and breads!

Sixth and eighth graders at Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School peel persimmons as the first step in string-drying, using the traditional Japanese method of hoshigaki.
Two weeks later, students at Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School test the progress of their drying persimmons.
Students at Sayre High School get ready to add their strung persimmons to their drying window of garden-grown herbs and peppers

In 2018, we also honored the life of Roseann McLaughlin, the beloved, foundational visionary behind Overbrook School for the Blind’s Farm-to-Table Program. Continuing in her legacy through GrowAbility, we continued to work with a consortium of 10 organizational partners working to adapt orchard and agricultural curriculum for special needs students. POP created sensory lesson books and tactile prop boxes on honeybees, worms, apples, and herbs of the orchard understory, which are being adapted and replicated at partner sites all over the city.

Overbrook School for the Blind’s Lee Stough leads students on a full sensory journey of the honeybee, using POP’s story book and interactive, tactile prop box.

Using art, dance, and music, we delivered kinesthetic-focused lessons at new orchard partners like William Cramp Elementary School in North Philly, where students learned about root structures while tending to the weeds in their school’s orchards and danced the different structures they found! With support from Mural Arts, students also made collaborative exquisite corpse drawings, drawing themselves as part-humans, part-plants while learning about the functional parts of plants. With retired-but-returning teacher Dr. Ruiz, an incredibly knowledgeable resource and student advocate, students learned how to make egg shell gardens and how to seed plants from avocado pits, a common staple for many of the school’s students. We continue to use art to facilitate students’ understanding of the natural and built environment.

Cramp Elementary School’s Dr. Ruiz prepares for a lesson on egg-shell gardening with 4th grade students.

In 2019, POP’s School Orchard Program has identified two key learning initiatives: education around protecting pollinator habitats, and work on natural dyes and pigments. This winter, we’re welcoming 4 undergraduate environmental studies students from Swarthmore for 10 weeks, who will be working with us on researching the crisis of pollinator population decline and ways we can intercept through the seeding of useful host plants. We’ll be working on a large seed ball project to seed these plants in the gardens and understories of our school partners, in addition to making these resources available to the wider community. We’ll be piloting a natural dyeing component with several schools this year, which will include a fall student showcase. This year we’ve also begun to work more closely with the Mayor’s Office of Education; through their work with community schools and includes several of our school partners, we’ll be creating a database of some simple garden projects for teachers and students, and sharing our newly created nutrition and recipe cards for use with classrooms and school food pantries, available in both English and Spanish (with special thanks to Camille Crane of Casa del Carmen for translating!).

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these school orchard initiatives, please reach out to Education Director Alyssa Schimmel, alyssa@phillyorchards.org

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.  Our School Orchard Program is funded in part by the Lawrence Saunders Fund and the Rosenlund Family Foundation.

Puckery, Perfect, or Preserved: Exploring Persimmons Fresh & Dried – MS/HS Lesson (PDF Download)

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, Recipes, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How-to Hoshigaki guide available through POP’s resource and curriculum pages. Requires peeling, patience, and frequent massages!

It is no wonder that persimmon’s Latin genus name “Diospyros” translates as “food of the gods” for the fruit’s divine, sweet flavor. The fall-ripening fruit of persimmon trees are rich and jammy and its honeyed flavor can be exquisitely sweet on the palette when given the proper ripening time on or off the tree — and especially after a quick flash of frost. But variety or hasty harvester beware, for unripe persimmon fruit is also known for its astringency, inciting an unpleasant pucker on the palette.  This sensation is due the presence of tannins — a class of plant-protective phenolic compounds appearing in foods like tea, rhubarb, coffee, and chocolate — that bind to the proteins in saliva creating a tense, drying mouthfeel.  For this reason, reviews of the fruit from the unaware can be somewhat mixed! 

Still, persimmons are one of POP’s favorite fruits to plant in our community orchards — especially school orchards — due to their hardiness, resilience against pest & disease (of which there are very few!), and their ability to provide a late-fall harvest, which is a plus once the apple season wraps up and the summer’s berries and stone fruits are but a mere, sunny memory.  Persimmons rate as one of the easiest to grow fruit in our climate and when properly harvested, they are truly delicious! 

(Read more about Asian persimmons and the native American persimmon here).  

Richard Allen Preparatory sixth-graders watch footage of persimmon processing in Japan. Video linked in the downloadable lesson plan.

So — who better to test the ‘simmons with than two groups of incredibly talented, sometimes-adventurous, sometimes-hesitant Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School middle-schoolers, who’ve been working hard all year-long in designing and expanding their school garden, orchard, and palettes along with Jenny Dunker of Greener Partners?

Greener Partners’ Jenny Dunker and POP’s Education Director Alyssa Schimmel scope the fruit set on the school’s persimmon tree during the early fall.

We piloted this persimmon lesson (PDF download here) with 6th and 8th graders at the school, where they have a huge, healthy ‘Nikita’s Gift’ persimmon tree that was loaded with fruit in the summer. Most of the fruit had been harvested prior to our lesson (hopefully by community members — not squirrels!) but we called in backup, picking up flats of Asian persimmons for $6-8 from an Asian grocery store, and harvesting the native American persimmon from the grounds of the Woodlands that were shaken down from the trees’ tall branches during a community gleaning event.

Students begin the process by delicately peeling the persimmons’ outer skin.

We began with a taste test of the fruit and a brainstorm of what we might make with it to help extend the harvest, then read about the trees’ growth, care, and nutritional facts on this POP tree PDF info-sheet here, before watching two videos on caring for persimmons and learning to cure them using the Japanese traditional stringing-and-massaging mode of drying called hoshigaki (PDF how-to handout here).

Hoshigaki is a cultural delicacy in Japan, where it is frequently used to make the astringent variety of persimmons, Hachiya, more palatable. After peeling the outer skin and stringing them by the stem to hang in the sun with proper airflow and regular massages every 4-5 days to encourage the moisture and sugar to the surface to bloom (it’s often called the kobe beef of dried fruit!), the fresh, still-firm fruit is transformed in a few weeks into an intensely-flavored, still-tender dried delight that is sugar-blushed, rolled, and stored for up to a month in the fridge, or two months in the freezer.

Repair the World’s Megan Brookens and Jenny Dunker string the fruit to clothing hangers to dry.

Unfortunately, the Hachiya variety wasn’t available at the market — the non-astringent Fuyus being preferred for fresh eating — so we tried with what we had and can report back on this blog and by our social media channels with the results! Stay tuned! Because the Hachiya variety has more protective tannins, it’s said they are ideal for this method of drying, whereas the Fuyus which are higher in sugar can draw bugs and possibly develop mold, if too moist. In that case, the fruit after peeling can be flash-boiled for 10 seconds or sprayed with alcohol that can help sanitize the surface.

NOTE: Discard any hoshigaki that form greenish mold due to excessive moisture.  DO NOT CONSUME!  Again, the white bloom that forms naturally through this process is just crystallized sugars and safe to eat.

So how did the persimmons fare among Richard Allen’s reviewers? The majority of students really enjoyed them-– noting that the tomato-like fruit had buttery, spicy, squashy, and honey-flavors they thought might be delicious in cereal bars, fruit leathers, or breakfast cereal.

Two weeks later, the persimmon fruits are beginning to collapse and dry. Here, the students massage the fruit to break up the still-soft internal fruit flesh.

Educators can consider a range of follow-up activities to complement the lesson including in-class experiments on techniques for improving the sweetness of fruit by adjusting harvest time, refrigerating or freezing; exploring methods of reducing astringency by soaking, souring, etc; other culinary and recipe experiments like making persimmon breads or butters; and history extensions, conducting research on hoshigaki and other persimmon-based traditional foodways from around the world.

Jenny Dunker’s Feedback on the Lesson: “The persimmon lesson was excellent for my 6th and 8th grade students. They were drawn in to the subject through a thoughtful exploration of flavor and texture, making them eager to learn more about these fascinating trees. POP educators kept students engaged through a combination of hands on projects and multimedia. Students were excited to explore the development of the trees and fruit, propagation methods, and cultural practices surrounding the persimmon, even participating in a fruit preservation experiment! This lesson engages learners through a discovery-based exploration, broadening their tastes and providing a deeper appreciation for the trees right outside their school.”

This POP Blog Post and Curriculum Materials were written by Education Director Alyssa Schimmel with assistance from Repair the World fellow Megan Brookens.

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

Honoring Roseann McLaughlin and GrowAbility Honeybee Sensory Lesson Book (PDF Download)

Posted on Categories Beneficial Insects, Blog, Home, POP Orchards, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roseann McLaughlin (far right) along with staff at Overbrook School for the Blind during a groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s new greenhouse program.

It’s with deep sadness that we at the Philadelphia Orchard Project offer our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and community of Roseann McLaughlin of Overbrook School for the Blind, who passed November 2, 2018 in a tragic house fire. Roseann was the enthusiastic and loving cornerstone of the school’s Farm-To-Table program begun in 2013, which connected Overbrook students to healthy food, on-site gardening opportunities, an ever-expanding school orchard, and in-development greenhouse. She served at the school for 15 years as a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Practitioner, and Health Services Coordinator, and was recounted lovingly by staff and the larger community as one of the most encouraging, dedicated, and positive people and team members, who always had a kind word of support to share and a new idea to explore that could expand students’ horizons. She had the unique gift of making everyone feel appreciated — from staff who had known her for many years, to volunteers who came in to lend a hand, even for an afternoon.

In March 2017, she initiated a new collaborative curriculum endeavor named GrowAbility with agricultural educators around the city — including OverbrookElwyn, and Easter Seals schools, POP, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Penn State Extension, 4-H, Associated Services for the Blind, Philadelphia Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center, Greener Partners, and others — to asses how garden curriculum could be adapted for special needs students. In our last meeting together, we brainstormed ideas for new projects like making music from the plants of the orchard with a device that could translate plants’ electrical signaling into music, and could be felt by students with deep-bodily sensory-input needs through students’ vibratory backpacks. She delighted in the collaboration of new ideas, how they germinated, and grew. Her giving heart, commitment to her work and community, and her service-oriented spirit was unparalleled and will be sorely missed as a project partner we are blessed to have had, and as a kindred friend. It’s our deep wish that the continuation of this work honors her legacy for all those who were blessed to know her and carry her intentions and plans forward.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to support her daughter Casey and grandson Michael. 

=== 

Honeybee Sensory Lesson 

In honor of Roseann McLaughlin and the collective consortium of educators she gathered, we share the first sensory-lesson book created by POP and reviewed by the GrowAbility collective as an adaptive activity guide book for special needs students.  Inspiration for the format first came from Linda Bucher of Overbrook School for the Blind, who supported the school’s Farm-to-Table program along with Roseann, teacher Lee Stough, Library Assistant/Farm-to-Table Job Coach Shannon Walsh, School Nutritionist Cathy Dorazio, and art teacher Susan DiFabio. 

Each page in this Honeybee Sensory Lesson Book (downloadable here) pairs information about the topic, life and role of honeybees in the larger ecosystem, with a sensory component that involves some mix of sight, smell, taste, movement, music / auditory input, solitary, and group work in recognition of the many ways students of all levels create pathways for learning, experience, and retention. 

Cover page for the 15-page book that can be adapted by teacher based on length of lesson and skill-level of students.

Each guidebook is adaptable — meaning teachers can choose which pages to present and props to use from the suggested accompanying prop-box based on the needs of their unique student group. We also include a rubric (downloadable here) that teachers can use as a guide for categorizing the book’s pages and for assessing students’ response to paged / themed activities. 

Students pretend to be drones with large-eyed sunglasses, fan the queen like a worker bee, and enact the process of pollination with hands-on tactile props.

Educators can consider a range of follow-up activities to complement the lesson book including art exercises making honeybees with tissue paper, as Lee Stough’s class had done (pictured here), visits with teaching demo beekeepers and hives (consult Philadelphia Beekeeper’s Guild for more info), planting pollinator gardens, making honey bee drinking dishes, etc. 

Teacher Lee Stough passes around a boar’s hair brush for students to feel the short bristly hairs of the honeybee that holds flowers’ pollen from one flower to the next.

This lesson was first offered to Lee Stough’s class, which includes a mix of student levels — from those with partial to fully obstructed sight, to those geared more toward sensory learning and to those able to perform at grade-level academically. The GrowAbility collective aims to pilot this lesson 10 times in the fall across various program sites including Elwyn, and Easter Seals Schools, Philadelphia Free Library branches, and with 4-H student groups and make edits to the curriculum with the larger collected findings.

As a follow-up to the lesson, Lee Stough’s class made flying honeybee decorations using tissue paper that the students ripped and glued in place.

Lee Stough’s Feedback on the Lesson: “The HoneyBee lesson was a big success with my students who have visual impairments and multiple disabilities.The adults also loved it and were as equally engaged as the students. The lesson allowed the students to learn about Honeybees through all their senses not just vision.  They were able to hear a swarm of bees through the classroom speakers, feel the hairs that are on the Honeybees by touching a Boars’ hair hairbrush, they were able to taste pollen grains, and smell the lemon scents bees give off to locate their hives. This lesson is in-depth and engaging.  Learners of all abilities will be engaged and want to participate.” 

If you’d like to pilot this lesson with your student group and loan the laminated book and accompanying prop box, feel free to reach out to Education Director Alyssa Schimmel, alyssa@phillyorchards.org 

This POP Blog Post and Curriculum Materials were written by Education Director Alyssa Schimmel 

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

Getting Funky with Fermentation – MS/HS Lesson (PDF Download)

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Plants, POP Orchards, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , ,

If there’s one thing we continually learn in offering our School Orchard Program it’s that culinary classes are always a hit with students and teachers alike! They’re hands-on and sensory-rich, foster team-work, collaboration, and creative thinking, and offer educators a breadth of content integration possibilities. Take for instance a recent summertime lesson on fermentation we offered at Sayre High School in West Philadelphia, where students of the after-school and summer garden programs, cultivate a garden of assorted vegetable and fruit crops they sell twice weekly (Tues. 3:45-5 @ Sayre Health Center and Weds. 4-5 @ Red Cross House (4000 Powelton Ave) in their CSA Good Food Bag for the surrounding community with special focus upon those using SNAP/EBT.

The hands-on session provided an entry point to discussing regional culinary traditions informed by planned and local plant ecologies, botanical families of plants featured in the recipe and the school garden & orchard, and culinary science and biological processes, all while creating space for students to hatch new ideas of entrepreneurship & creating value-added products for the program from the landscape (a particular desire students expressed). What can we say? Orchards lend themselves naturally to interdisciplinary learning that feeds curiosity and awareness of interdependence at the same time they nourish with fresh food.

The lesson began by situating the timeliness of the material seasonally — asking students what methods of food preservation they might use at the peak of the season when they have more vegetables, fruits, and herbs harvested than they know what to do with. They shared a number of responses: canning, freezing, drying, pickling, and of course, donating and sharing the harvest with others — and then the funky one that packs a particular punch on the palette — fermentation. We sampled examples of fermented foods like sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and fizzy, fermented tea-beverage, kombucha, noting the signature saliva-producing lactic bite of foods gone funky, explored the chemistry that’s enacted in the process, and then delved into the hands-on sauerkraut-making portion that could incorporate orchard herbs like bee balm, oregano, and thyme, commonly planted in most if not all POP community orchards.

High school students in the summer program at Sayre High School practice their culinary skills by chopping cabbage to make sauerkraut — learning fermentation as a food preservation method used for preserving the harvest.

During our session together, students also drew personal parallels to their own culinary memories and traditions. One student, Jonathan, shared how sauerkraut always reminded him of his grandfather because they enjoy kraut-topped hot dogs at baseball games together every summer. We also discussed how cultured foods literally create culture (not only for groups of people), but also for the populations of bacteria, fungi, and yeast of a particular region/place that can be shared over many years, topographies, and borders. Take a look at Ione Christensen of Canada, for instance, who’s been tending to a 120-year old culture of sourdough that traveled to her from her great-grandfather back in 1897. That’s one kickin’ culture!

What’s more as fodder to ponder, is what as fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz calls, ‘the miracle of coevolution – that the bacteria that coexist with us in our bodies enable us to exist.’ In The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World, Katz cites microbiologist Michael Wilson who notes “each surface of a human being is colonized by microbes exquisitely adapted to that particular environment” and in the era of the ‘war on bacteria,’ he advocates “the well-being of our microbial ecology requires replenishment and diversification now more than ever.” Equally relevant to the health of our digestive and immune systems in nourishing rich microbiomes, we also take this point for its application to organic orcharding. When we boost fertility and build fungal-rich soil through sheet-mulching, compost tea application and foliar sprays, the plants of the orchard thrive and and sustain themselves more readily from fending off other fungal or bacterial diseases, as noted organic orchardist and author Michael Phillips proposes.

May it be that the standards-based lesson materials available here as a PDF download — along with picture guide and handout — contribute in small part to the aim of  working in ever-closer harmony with the microbes of yeast, fungi, and bacteria that support the ecology of the orchards, our bodies, ourselves.

This POP Blog Post and Curriculum Materials were written by Education Director Alyssa Schimmel 

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

Teaching Tomorrow’s Tenders – POP’s School Orchard Update Spring-Summer 2018

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, POP Orchards, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

High school students in the summer program at Sayre High School practice their culinary skills by chopping cabbage to make sauerkraut — learning fermentation as a food preservation method used for preserving the harvest.

We’ve had a busy and bountiful spring season with POP’s School Orchard program and community educational initiatives. Since January, we’ve delivered 17 lessons to 6 school orchard partners (William L. Sayre High School, William T. Tilden Middle School, Henry C. Lea Elementary School, Overbrook School for the Blind, Penn Alexander School, John F. Hartranft School) and reached 210 students.

 

In early spring we released a quantitative and qualitative survey to our 12 school partners to receive feedback on the learning priorities and desired outcomes of each unique program so that we might offer meaningful and objective-aligned programatic services to partners. In addition to increasing engagement — getting more students out and into the school orchards to plant, maintain, and harvest from the orchards — school educators identified goals of building responsible students leaders who are literate and actively engaged in food systems work, and integrating school day programming through the gardens (Sayre HS, West Philly), to cultivating independent stewardship and increasing product creation (Tilden MS, West Philly), to having students actively engaged in the natural environments of the school grounds and understanding storm water management and natural technologies (Lea ES, West Philly).

Megan Brookens, POP’s Repair the World Fellow ’17-’18, assists second graders at Lea Elementary School in seeding plants representing the different parts of the plant we harvest for food: root, leaf, flower, and fruit.

To meet these aims this season, some of the lessons we offered included:
  • creating value-added products from the orchard: herbal tea bags and salves, wild edible identification and making infused vinegars
  • food preservation methods and traditions: sauerkraut fermentation
  • direct orchard-care topics including plant propagation; pruning; planting annual fruiting crops; planting by seed, start, and cuttings; and treating pest and disease with organic management practices.
We also created dynamic sensory-activity storybooks on honeybees and earthworms for use with students at Overbrook School for the Blind, which will be released as downloadable PDFs in a forthcoming POP blog. The honeybee lesson guidebook will be adapted for pilot use with 10 special needs classrooms citywide this fall through the GrowAbility Education Collective which joins partners including Overbrook School for the Blind, Elwyn, Easterseals, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Penn State Master Gardeners, Greener Partners, Philadelphia Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center, 4-H, Associated Services for the Blind, in adapting agricultural curriculum for special needs communities.

Students at Overbrook School for the Blind planted strawberries in the school’s courtyard Farm-to-Table garden.

Later this summer through fall, POP will also unveil a new community education initiative in conjunction with our POPHarvest gleaning program – which will host community teachers from a range of traditions to lead workshops geared around underutilized fruits and herbs of our orchards. Look out for classes on Caribbean foodways and cooking – spotlight on thyme and burdock with Nyambi Royster of Lighthouse Orchard; herbal oxymel making with Kelly McCarthy of Attic Apothecary; trifoliate fire cider making with Al Pascal of Fikira Bakery; gingko history and nut processing with naturalist LJ Brubaker; and hawthorn medicine making with Julia Aguilar. 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).

This POP program update written by Education Director Alyssa Schimmel

 

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

Beetle Invasion! Coping with Japanese Beetles

Posted on Categories Berries & Vines, Blog, Home, Orchard Care, Orchard Pests, Tree CareTags , , , , , , , , , ,

What green, Japanese terror costs more than 200 million dollars in damage each year? No, it’s not Godzilla…it’s Popillia japonica a.k.a, the Japanese beetle (JB)!

This tiny import has entrenched itself as one of the most notorious garden and orchard pests in the United States, devouring acres of fields, trees, and shrubs each year.

M.G. Klein, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Grower beware! — more than 300 plant species are susceptible to Japanese Beetles, including many POP orchard favorites like apples, grapes, apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries! 

But, before you go fleeing the streets in response to its feedings of fury, here are a few ways you can combat this garden nemesis with proper knowledge of its life cycle, feeding habits, and some organic controls you might employ to outsmart this little bugger!

David Cappaert, Bugwood.org

Identification

Adults 

Both adults and grubs (larval stage) are problematic plant pests. Adults feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits, while grubs feed on roots.

Adults are about ½ inch long with distinct coloration. The head and thorax are metallic-green while the wings are bronze. Additionally, six small, white, hairy patches line the sides and back of the abdomen.

Adults are most active from late spring to midsummer. ‘Skeletonized’ leaves seen below are classic indicators of JB foraging. In orchards, JBs are particularly keen to feed on apples (Honeycrisp), blueberries (Bluecrop), and raspberries (Chinook and Heritage). 

Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

William Fountain, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org

Grubs

Grubs prove harder to locate as they spend their time underground. However, noticeable brown patches on your lawn may warrant further investigation.

To search for grubs, dig a small hole a few inches deep near the edge of the damaged area. Grubs are about an inch long with a white-colored body and light-brown legs and head.

Look for active grubs from early spring to late autumn. During winter months they will hibernate in deeper soil.

USDA Agricultural Research Service , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

M.G. Klein, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org 

Japanese Beetle Life Cycle 

University of Minnesota Extension

Understanding JB’s life cycle is key for timing the proper offense. Grubs overwinter 8-10 inches deep in the soil  during early winter.  As soil temperatures warm during early spring (April – May), grubs begin rising to the surface, feeding on turf roots. If you have an infestation, you’ll likely see large brown patches of grass.

In June, the grubs pupate, and by July, adults emerge from the soil in early July to feed, mate, and lay eggs where they feed on vines, linden trees, roses, and other savory ornamentals.

In the bright sun of day, adults feed on the topmost portion of plants, and by dusk, females fly to turf to lay their eggs. Adults live for 60 days and feed intensely July-August (the best time to apply organic insecticidal controls for grubs). Over 2 months, females will lay a total of 60 eggs.

Prevention & Control

  • Chemical Measures:
    • Insecticides/Pesticides
      • A number of chemical applications are effective against adults and grubs. Consult your local cooperative extension office before electing to go this route.
      • Other Applications
        • Homemade solutions of dishwashing soap or oils (e.g. neem oil) can deter adult feedings for 3-4 days at a time, and even affect future grub generations; they are easy to apply and pose fewer environmental risks.
        • Unfortunately, insecticidal soaps and homemade extracts of garlic, orange peels, and hot pepper are largely ineffective.
  • Biological Control:
    • Predators/Parasites
      • Bacterial parasites (e.g. Milky spore), and nematodes (e.g. Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) can eradicate grubs. Both are available commercially and easily applied to soil.
      • Parasitic tiphid wasps (Tiphia vernalis) and Isotcheta aldrichi flies have been established in some areas. Growing specific plants may attract these species as well as other beneficial insects.
    • Habitat Manipulation
      • Over 300 plant species are susceptible to JB’s, including many favorites in our POP orchards like: apples, grapes, apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, roses, chestnuts, and walnuts. 
      • Try diversifying your plantings to reduce potential feeding sites for JB pests and consider a number of potential deterrents like: American elder, common lilac, juniper, red maple, white ash, white poplar, fir, etc. 
  • Tips to reduce crop damage:
    • Remove damaged or rotting fruit as the odor attracts more adults.
    • Keep growing areas clear of moist soil containing weeds and grasses, where adults like to lay eggs.
    • Try planting more ‘JB-preferred’ species (e.g. Pennsylvania smartweed) to draw adults away from crops.

For more information:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/domestic/downloads/japanese_beetle.pdf

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/jb/downloads/JBhandbook.pdf

https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/japanese-beetles/

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef451

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/beetles/japanese_beetle.htm

http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/fea508.html

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/managing_japanese_beetles_in_fruit_crops

This POP Pest Feature was written by nutrition educator and volunteer blog contributor Matthew Self. 

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