POPHarvest Program Update 2018-19

Posted on Categories Blog, Harvesting, Home, Plants, Wild EdiblesTags , , , ,

The POPHarvest gleaning program has taken a few turns and this year ventured into new fruiterritory, launching a new POPHarvestEd workshop series! The POPHarvest program, first piloted in 2014, is focused on picking and distributing fruit that would otherwise go to waste. These programs have taken two primary forms: distributing excess production from regional commercial orchards and educating about abundant but overlooked city fruit. In previous years, POP had developed relationships with some larger scale commercial orchards that would allow groups of POP volunteers to harvest otherwise unused portions of their production for donation to local emergency food services. This opportunity has unfortunately been on hold the past few seasons and while attempting to rekindle this, we’ve adjusted to further highlighting more unusual, yet abundantly available plants that grow in the city.  

POPHarvest events in 2018 focused on abundant but often overlooked city fruits, including crabapples, juneberries, mulberries, and hawthorns.

In 2018, we hosted our 3rd annual week long Juneberry Joy campaign, harvesting 118 pounds of juneberries with volunteers at 9 locations across the city, followed by a two-part Mulberry Madness yielding 51 pounds. These yields were utilized by a variety of local partners to create magical, edible and drinkable concoctions ranging from ice cream to kombucha, demonstrating the culinary value of these lesser utilized fruits. In the fall, POP engaged in two crabapple harvests, totaling 242 pounds, much of which was donated and turned into applesauce by Sunday Suppers, a culinary education program serving families at risk of food insecurity. Other group harvests included 25 lbs of hawthorn, and small paw paw and persimmon gleans, all supplemented with discussions of recipes, preservation, and other uses. For many of these lesser utilized orchard and regional gleaning opportunities, we have produced info sheets available on POP’s website to extend the reach of our educational efforts. These sheets contain plant facts, seasonal care tips, nutritional information and propagation or usage recommendations.  

If you’re interested in getting involved with gleaning efforts, please join our POPHarvest email list or reach out to michael@phillyorchards.org.

Introducing POPHarvestEd!

To expand upon what we at POP can share with our communities in the POPHarvest program, we piloted a new POPHarvestEd community harvest education program in fall of 2018. This workshop series brings in community teachers to lead gleaning workshops focused on sharing cultural, culinary, and medicinal uses of lesser known fruits, nuts, and herbs that are widely available through POP orchards and the Philadelphia region. In this effort, we are able to provide a platform for more diverse expertise, traditions, experiences and viewpoints concerning lesser known harvests in our region. We believe all people have something to learn and teach, and we celebrate the many ways people come to knowledge in their own unique experience and time. This season we held four of these workshops on the topics of Ginkgo berry processing, Trifoliate Orange based fire cider, Herbal Oxymels, and Black Walnut processing for edibility, fabric dye, wood stain and medicinal properties.

The POPHarvestEd workshop series features community educators sharing cultural, culinary, and medicinal knowledge about abundant but lesser known fruits and orchard plants.

In 2019, the POPHarvestEd community education program is looking for 8-10 teachers to share workshop proposals that would include info on selected plant(s), group harvesting, and food or medicine crafting. POP has been able to pay teachers a flat rate and sponsor ServSafe certification for workshop facilitators while offering these workshops on a sliding scale for attendees. If you’re interested in leading a POPHarvestEd workshop this year, please reach out to alyssa@phillyorchards.org or michael@phillyorchards.org for more info.

List of potential plants for 2019 POPHarvestEd programs:



trifoliate orange




aronia / chokeberry

black walnuts



grapes / grape leaves



lemon balm

bee balm

anise hyssop



lemon balm


raspberry leaf

blackberry leaf (root)

mulberry leaf

peach leaf

japanese knotweed


yellow dock


This blog post written by Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer.

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