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:

FRUIT/NUTS

gingko

trifoliate orange

mulberry

juneberry/serviceberry

crabapple

aronia / chokeberry

black walnuts

acorns

elderberry

grapes / grape leaves

ORCHARD HERBS/WEEDS

fennel

lemon balm

bee balm

anise hyssop

peppermint

comfrey

lemon balm

bayberry

raspberry leaf

blackberry leaf (root)

mulberry leaf

peach leaf

japanese knotweed

burdock

yellow dock

dandelion

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.  

POP History 2014 & Volunteer Highlight: Ryan Kuck

Posted on Categories Blog, Home, POP Orchards, POPharvests, VolunteersTags , , , , , , , , , ,

“This is the power of community orchards. They inspire, they lift spirits, they demonstrate resiliency, and they bring people together around that greatest of common denominators – food. ”
-Ryan Kuck, 2014 Golden Persimmon Volunteer

In honor of the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we’re looking back at a different year in our history every month.  We’re also designating Golden Persimmon Awards for each year in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers.

The POPHarvest gleaning program was piloted in 2014, educating city residents about abundant but neglected fruits like juneberries, crabapples, and ginkgo nuts.

Philadelphia Orchard Project History: 2014
POP again expanded our programming in 2014 by bringing on new staff in Robyn Mello as our Education & Outreach Director.  Among other things, Robyn started our POPHarvest gleaning program to pick and distribute fruit that would otherwise go to waste and to educate the public about abundant but neglected fruit in the city.  New planting sites in 2014 included assisting with design and planting of a multi-acre orchard with the Philadelphia Prison System and a demonstration orchard at Penn Park on UPenn’s campus.  Our 4th annual Orchard Day expanded to Philadelphia Orchard Weekend, involving over 1700 participants in harvest festivals and other events at orchards across the city.  POP’s Executive Director Phil Forsyth presented a TEDx talk on the value of urban community orchards.

POP ORCHARDS PLANTED in 2014:  St James United Methodist, Penn Park, Philadelphia Prison Systems, Gorgas Park, Tablespread Farm
NUMBER OF POP ORCHARD SITES SUPPORTED IN 2014: 47
2014 POP NEWSLETTERS: Summer, Winter
2014 POP ORCHARD SPOTLIGHTS: Tertulias @ Norris Square,  Earth’s Keepers Farm at Kingsessing Rec Center
2014 GOLDEN PERSIMMON VOLUNTEER:  Ryan Kuck
2014 POP BOARD PRESIDENT: Brian Olszak

New POP Education & Outreach Director Robyn Mello helping to plant fruit trees at the Philadelphia Prison Systems orchard in 2014.

POP VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT: Ryan Kuck

Ryan Kuck volunteered on POP’s Board and Orchard Committee from 2007 through 2011.  He continues to help maintain fruit trees and community orchards in the Belmont neighborhood and currently serves as Executive Director of Greensgrow Farms
I was just in NYC the other weekend visiting the first official permaculture project in a city park. “Really?” I said. “In Philly we’ve been doing this for over 10 years!” In New York there is an ordinance specifically prohibiting foraging from park land. But I’m watching a few dozen families come and go through this rather nondescript pilot project in the Bronx, excitedly finding edible herbs and flowers, showing their friends and children, and carrying their treasures back home. Given the enormous chip Philly has on its shoulder about being a forgotten sibling to New York, it’s nice to see this city so far ahead of the curve on the powers of community-based food forests. NYC’s got nothing on us!
I started volunteering with POP in 2007, having done a few guerilla plantings around the city that couldn’t quite attract enough attention to build a movement. It is remarkable what POP has accomplished over that time, and I brag to anyone that will listen that I have 30 fruit trees growing within 3 blocks of my house. We embarked on an ambitious project to build 10 permanent garden spaces in our neighborhood of Belmont with community partners. We knew we didn’t want to replicate the fragile system of growing on vacant land, but rather sought to build a resilient network that improved community-owned assets through agriculture. We started with annual vegetables but slowly the gardens sprouted fruit trees and perennials. It can be hard to maintain a raised bed, or to convince someone unfamiliar that rainbow chard is worth a try, but everyone knows what a cherry is. We had kids and got busy with life, and most of the gardens found other caretakers. And the fruit trees just keep growing. Even when a group of rowdy kids climb branches a bit too small to reach those highest fruits and snap a limb, those trees keep shooting for the sky and defiantly producing another bushel.
Yesterday a woman walked by our house and in her hand was a persimmon that a neighbor had helped her pick from the nearby Ogden Gardens orchard site. When she saw that our garden also had a tree full of ripening persimmons, she flagged us down and exclaimed: “My son just tasted one of these at a program in his school- I can’t believe they’re growing in our neighborhood!” 

This is the power of community orchards. They inspire, they lift spirits, they demonstrate resiliency, and they bring people together around that greatest of common denominators – food.

Golden Persimmon Volunteer Ryan Kuck with his very young apprentice at Ogden Gardens, one of several POP orchards he helped to plant in his neighborhood.

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 Creative with Fall Foraging: Crabapples and Gingko Nuts and Leaves

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, POP Orchards, POPharvests, Recipes, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve walked around the streets of Philadelphia in the fall, you’ve likely seen the gorgeous foliage and decor of crabapple and gingko trees. Although these trees are popular in urban landscapes and beyond, they are oft-overlooked as sources of foraged food. During this fall season, we encourage you to get creative and harvest these special plants – with a little bit of practice (and some helpful information — see below!), crabapples and gingko nuts can become pantry staples.

Crabapples

Crabapples are classified as any apples with a diameter less than 2 inches, representing a wide range of Malus species native to North America, Asia, and Europe. Crabapple trees are small deciduous trees that flower prolifically in spring and produce abundant fruit in the fall.  Look around and they are easy to spot on many tree-lined streets of Philadelphia. Most common crabapple cultivars are selected for their ornamental qualities, but there are some known for their relatively larger, distinguished, flavorful and pleasant fruit (see list of good edible crabapple varieties here).  Crabapples boast similar nutritional value to their non-crabby counterparts, with noted amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants. Although the fruit is often small and sour, its culinary uses are many!

In the kitchen, crabapples can be featured similarly to larger and sweeter apples in baked goods, jams, jellies, juices, syrups, butters, purees, and fruit leathers. Crabapple jelly is a POP favorite! Check out a recipe card for you to use at home from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension and more easy-to-make recipes from UAFCE here. For a hands-on demo, join us November 11 from 12-2pm at Greensgrow Community Kitchen for a jam and jelly making workshop with Chef Gail Hinson! 

Gingko Nuts and Leaves

Ginkgo biloba trees are one of the oldest plants on earth, so old that they are considered ancient living fossils that have “remained essentially unchanged since [their] debut 180 million years ago.” The ginkgo tree was introduced in North America through Philadelphia from England; it was originally – and still is – championed as a fantastic ornamental landscape tree.  The very first Ginkgo tree in North America was planted by William Hamilton at his estate at The Woodlands in West Philadelphia, where the office of the Philadelphia Orchard Project is now located! 

Photo credit: Serious Eats

Before consuming ginkgo nuts, please read POP’s edible plant disclaimer at the end of the article.

With careful preparation, ginkgo seeds can be snacked on and ginkgo leaves can be used for tea. Because of the chemical compounds in ginkgo fruit including urushiol the active irritating chemical in poison ivy, the seeds require special cleaning and processing. If you get close enough to take a whiff, you’ll notice the cheesy smell of ginkgo’s female fruit – a fair warning of its potential poisonous qualities. When harvesting and processing ginkgo for seeds, wear gloves and take caution. You’ll remove the seeds from the fruit and then process by boiling, pan roasting, or frying in a skillet.

After processing, it is best to limit your intake of ginkgo seeds to every other day.  Children should always limit their consumption to no more than 5 ginkgo seeds in a day.   Consuming too many gingko nuts can make you feel ill and possibly interfere with vitamin B6 absorption due to the natural presence of 4-methoxypyridoxine. 

So, noting all of that, you may ask, why is it worth it? For many reasons! Ginkgo seeds can be flavorful and tender, they are a staple of specific Asian soups, and they’re plentiful! If you’re interested in trying it out, we recommend the following resources for more information:

Ginkgo Seed Collection & Preparation, written by Dr. Coder at the University of Virginia How to identify, harvest and prepare Ginkgo biloba for brain health and this great guide by wildfood forager Green Deane. 

Wishing you an abundant and joyful harvest!

This POP Plant Feature was written by POP 2017 Outreach & Education intern Amy Jean Jacobs. 

Disclaimer

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused.

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

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

Plant Spotlight: The Joyful Juneberry (Amelanchier spp)

Posted on Categories Berries & Vines, Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Orchard Care, Plant Profiles, Plants, POPharvests, Propagation, Recipes, Tree Care, Tree Diseases, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , ,

By 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney.

It’s June, and that means a piece of good news for us all: the juneberries are ripening! While this is making some of us leap up and down doing happy dances, I’m sure it’s also making some ask, “What the heck’s a juneberry?!”

Great question. Read all about them below, come to some of our five scheduled harvests, and eat them in various awesome products created by Philadelphia-area food and beverage businesses we’re partnering with during this month’s POPHarvest Juneberry Joy Celebration!  Also join the POPHarvest Google Group for community harvest updates now and forever! Now, onto it…

These are juneberries:

Juneberry 1

And this is a juneberry tree in flower:

Juneberry 2

The juneberry (also known as serviceberry, shadberry, sarvis, sarvisberry, snowy mespilus, shadblow, maycherry, shadbush, shadblossom, shadflower, sugar pea, wild pear, lancewood, boxwood, Canadian medlar, chuckley pear, and Saskatoon), is a large shrub (minus a few tree-like species such as A. Canadensis, A. lamarchii, and A. laevis) ranging in height from 16 to 32 feet. Juneberries are native to North America, are very hardy and adaptable, and are usually found growing at woodland edges, stream banks, and in hedges. At least one species is native to every state in the US except for Hawaii.

Juneberries have slender limbs, and scaly bark ranging in color from gray to brown. White, five-petaled flowers bloom in April or May at the same time that leaves begin to emerge. Flowers grow in racemes on last year’s grow, meaning that flowers grow on separate stalks evenly spaced along the branch:

Juneberry 3
Raceme diagram

Juneberries are partially self-fertile, meaning that having more than one is not necessary but will increase fruit yields. They are pollinated by bees and other insects. Fruits are round, about .3-.7 inches across, and are usually dark purple in color (they look and taste similar to blueberries). As you’ve probably guessed, they usually ripen in June. [On a side note, some people believe that the name ‘serviceberry’ came about because these trees would be blooming around the same time that the ground would be soft enough to hold services to bury people who had died over the winter.]

Uses

Juneberries (or serviceberries, or shadberries, or whatever) make for good eating. Fruits are edible across all species and are sweet and juicy. Some species produce fruit that is better for eating raw, while others produce fruit more well-suited to making jams or wine. The seeds can also be eaten and have an almond-like flavor. Recipes abound, from pies and jams, to muffins, sauce, pudding, and juneberry crisp. Check out some recipes here.

Juneberry 4
Juneberry muffins

Juneberries are also a key ingredient in pemmican (or pemikan), a staple food for Native Americans north of Missouri and Nebraska. Pemmican is a made by mixing dried and powdered meat, fat, and dried, ground juneberries together; it’s a high calorie, long-lasting food that was often taken on long hunting trips and was later adopted by European backwoodsmen. You can check out a recipe here. South of Missouri and Nebraska, many Native American groups mixed juneberries with cornmeal to make cakes and added juneberries to stews.

Juneberry 5
Pemmican

Juneberry wood is hard and heavy, and has a reddish-brown heartwood; Native Americans used it for making tool handles, fishing rods, and arrow shafts. Members of the Pit River Tribe in California also used juneberry wood to make body armor.

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally, juneberries have been used primarily for food but have been used medicinally as well (food and medicine, of course, are intertwined, and in many ways are one in the same). Native peoples of Canada used to steep the bark in tea to ease stomach troubles, and a tea made from the bark and twigs was given to mothers to aid with recovery after childbirth. Used in combination with other plants, parts of the juneberry tree were also traditionally used as a contraceptive.

Nutrition

Juneberries are an excellent source of iron; one serving contains around 23% of the daily recommended intake, which is almost twice the amount contained in blueberries. They also have a lower water content than blueberries, meaning that they have higher concentrations of proteins, carbs, and lipids. They are high in phenolic compounds, which in recent studies have been found to play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. They also contain relatively high amounts of potassium, which can help to prevent and ease muscle cramps, as well as large amounts of magnesium and phosphorous. They have similar levels of vitamin C, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin E as blueberries. Given that blueberries are often considered a superfood, juneberries have quite the nutritional repertoire.

Cultivation 

While they prefer soil that is moist and fertile, juneberries will thrive in almost any soil, and will tolerate part shade. Here in Philly, we’ve seen highly productive yet neglected street trees planted essentially in rubble or gravel! Juneberries are generally easy to grow and require little care; it is usually unnecessary to prune them, unless you have a grafted variety that sends out vigorous rootstock suckers. Trees that get plenty of sun will fruit the best. They are usually propagated via grafting or seed. Cornell university recommends specifically planting Amelanchier alnifolia species, which produces the best and most fruit. Named varieties such as ‘Smoky’, ‘JB-30’, ‘Martin’, ‘Northline’, ‘Regent’, and ‘Pembina’ are recommended for the northeast.

Juneberry seeds
Juneberry seeds

Seeds require a 3-5 month period of cold stratification, ideally followed by scarification or a four-week warm stratification. Some varieties of juneberries can be grafted onto rowan trees.

Pests and Diseases

While juneberries are hardy and suffer from few diseases, you may find yourself competing with birds for the fruit once it begins ripening. Caterpillars from various moths also feed on juneberry trees, though usually not too heavily. Trunk borers can also affect juneberries, and in some years, when late juneberry flowers overlap with wild roses and brambles, bees may spread bacterial fireblight. In recent years, POPHarvest has additionally seen some time of Amelanchier-Juniper rust (similar to Cedar Hawthorn or Cedar Apple Rust) affecting trees during our harvests.

Let’s get out there and harvest some juneberries!

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.

Disclaimer

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused.

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

Sources

Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture by Martin Crawford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarification_(botany)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier

http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1-1,juneberry,FE.html

http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/pemmican.html

http://www.juneberries.org/2011/11/juneberry-nutrition.html

http://www.nwplants.com/business/catalog/ame_aln.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20043255

http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2012/04/permaculture-plants-saskatoon.html

Picture Sources

  1. http://www.growingmagazine.com/fruits/new-juneberry-nursery/
  2. https://groundswatch.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/the-juneberry-tree-in-full-bloom-today/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inflorescences_Raceme_Kwiatostan_Grono.svg
  4. https://persephoneskitchen.com/2011/06/13/old-fashioned-juneberry-muffins/
  5. http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2012/04/permaculture-plants-saskatoon.html
  6. http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2012/04/permaculture-plants-saskatoon.html

Orchard-themed Holiday Gift Idea: Easy Apple Pie Filling

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, HomeTags , , ,

Post prepared by POP Education Committee Member, Karen Stark, GMO Free PA.

Great for gifts!

I love apple season–the sight of reddening fruit hanging heavy from trees as the leaves change; the first bite of a tart, crisp apple picked straight from a tree; apple-cider and apple cider donuts; and all of the apple-themed recipes. Extend the autumnal warmth a bit longer and make the busy holiday season a bit easier with this simple apple pie filling–great for a gift or for home food preservation!

Pick your apples from a local orchard like Linvilla, buy your apples from a local farmers market, an establishment geared towards local food like Fair Food Farmstand or Philly FoodWorks, or volunteer at a POPHarvest apple gleaning event next season! Some of the best apples for baking are Goldrush, Newtown Pippin, and Winesap.

Store them in quart jars (for gifts or pantry storage) or a freezer bag (much easier for self use).

Pam’s Easy Pie Filling

(Fills 12 quarts)

DSC00836

36 medium apples (3 per quart)

4 1/2 cups organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup arrowroot powder (or quick tapioca)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

10 cups water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, arrowroot powder, nutmeg, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir until thickened.

Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and stir.

DSC00857

Pack sliced apples in jars and add 1 1/2 cups of the mixture. Make sure you have 1/2” gap at the top of the jar. Give a 20 minute water bath. Visit other POP posts about canning or The Ball Jar Website for great tips.

Alternative storage: In a 1-quart freezer bag, place three sliced apples, add cooled mixture (a too-hot mixture may melt plastic or leach chemicals into your food), seal bag, and lay in the freezer.

A selection of the many apple cultivars planted in POP’s community orchards and picked at POPHarvest events:

Liberty – Eat Fresh (winner of children’s taste-tests this summer over other store-bought conventional and organic apple varieties!)

Goldrush – Eat Fresh, Cooking, Juice, Hard Cider

Honeycrisp – Eat fresh

Newtown Pippin – Cooking, Juice, Hard Cider

Winesap – Eat fresh, Cooking, Juice

Northstar Orchard in the Philadelphia area grows an astonishing 353 varieties of apples, mostly heirloom and antique. Visit their variety page for more information.

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.

POP and UPenn Team Up Again To Make Use of Unharvested Campus Fruits

Posted on Categories Blog, Harvesting, HomeTags , , , , ,

POPHarvest volunteer picking juneberries at POP's partner orchard at Francisville NDC
POPHarvest volunteer picking juneberries

Did you know that there are dozens of edible fruit trees planted throughout the University of Pennsylvania campus? POP and UPenn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) collaborated for a second season to harvest from some of these underutilized trees, educating many passersby in the process.

POP has been partnering with various grassroots groups, organizations, and institutions throughout the city to design, plant, and educate around 50 biodiverse community orchards since 2007. In 2014, it expanded its programming to include POPHarvest, a fruit gleaning initiative, with UPenn as its first collaborator. Since, POPHarvest has expanded to include harvests from various street trees, “weed” trees, residential backyard trees, abandoned or neglected regional orchards, and fruit-bearing trees at our partner sites which are located outside of POP-planted community orchards.

Freshly harvested juneberries
Freshly harvested juneberries

On June 4th, about 20 people participated in a Juneberry gleaning (Amelanchier spp.) at UPenn as part of a week of gleanings at other POP orchard sites in Francisville and Fairhill. A total of 30lbs of juneberries were harvested for POP use, plus whatever everyone took home for their own kitchen experiments. West Philly’s Spruce Hill Preserves processed 20lbs of berries into jelly and donated it POP fundraising, and 10lbs went towards juneberry culinary experiments and syrups at new member-cooperative W/N W/N Coffee Bar, a business that POP has partnered with several times in 2015.

Juneberry Jelly produced by West Philly-based Spruce Hill Preserves with fruit harvested at UPenn, Francisville, and Fair Hill juneberry POPHarvest events
Juneberry Jelly produced by West Philly-based Spruce Hill Preserves with fruit harvested at UPenn, Francisville, and Fair Hill juneberry POPHarvest events

POP Juneberry compote poured over Mycopolitan King Trumpet mushrooms, prepared by W/N W/N Coffee Bar
POP Juneberry compote poured over Philly-grown Mycopolitan King Trumpet mushrooms, prepared by W/N W/N Coffee Bar

On September 29th, about 15 people got together for a UPenn Crabapple gleaning (Malus spp.) across from St. Mary’s Church on Locust Walk. Participants came from various sections of Philadelphia and South Jersey, but happily, most of them were UPenn students, faculty, and staff! The most abundant trees were just next to the UPenn student community garden, and participants were lucky enough to also glean excess lemon balm that had escaped the garden beds. Participants took home whatever they could harvest to process into jams, jellies, crisps, and other preserves, and approximately 15 pounds of crabapples were again taken to Spruce Hill Preserves for processing and POP fundraising.

POPHarvest volunteers picking crabapples at UPenn
POPHarvest volunteers picking crabapples at UPenn

It’s really educational to harvest from the same trees in multiple years and observe their changes. In 2014, the juneberry trees at UPenn were full of fruits, whereas this season, their yields were much less impressive (though Francisville and Fair Hill’s yields were explosive). Last year, POP noted a certain variety of juniper rust, a fungus, creeping into the UPenn trees, which may have had an effect, in addition to the very dry spring months in April and May 2015.

The exact opposite was true of the crabapples, which were overburdened with big, delicious fruits this season–larger than those in memory from 2014, despite the months-long drought the city experienced. The same was true of most apple tree yields seen all over the region.

IMG_20150929_181014534_HDR

Some other fruits and nuts POPHarvest has organized around are ginkgos, wineberries, persimmons, apples, Asian pears, hawthorns, and mulberries, with more varieties to come each season!

Want to get involved in future POPHarvest gleaning events to learn about new fruits and nuts, harvest for culinary experiments, meet new people, assist in harvesting donations for local food banks, share ideas for harvest locations, and contribute to POP fundraising efforts with local food businesses? Sign up for our volunteer events listserv at https://www.phillyorchards.org/volunteer/signup, request to join the POPHarvest Google Group at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/popharvest, or email Robyn Mello, POP’s Program Director, at robyn@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.