Those Nutty Gardeners: PA & NY Nut Growers Association!

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Well, we all know gardeners can be a little nutty, but these next two groups take the cake.

The Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association (PNGA) and New York Nut Growers Association (NNGA) asked POP to join them at their spring meeting at Delaware State University in Doylestown, PA this year, and it was well worth the drive to meet them! We got got to learn about some great work being done in Pennsylvania and New York, which we’d love to tell you about.

Formed in 1932 to promote interest in hardy nut growing trees, their products and their culture, PNGA is a non-profit group dedicated to assisting local professionals, hobbyists, and students in growing higher quality nut trees. They offer a wide range of opportunities, including tree grafting workshops, demonstrations, farm tours, and newsletter articles as well as access to a network of experienced members.

On this fine day, we heard about commercialization efforts for Eastern Hazelnuts, the Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania, the Hundred Fruit Farm Permaculture CSA, the Downingtown nut tree plantings of John W. Hershey, farm succession, and government resources to help farmers with legal issues all in one place! This was all followed by grafting demonstrations, where a hickory grafted before our very eyes was donated to us here at POP.

It was encouraging to hear that the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative is to working to support the growth and commercialization of the hazelnut industry through efforts in grower support, targeted research, and technology transfer. These folks (which include our new Orchard Director Michael’s former adviser) see an opportunity for substantial regenerative agriculture through Hazelnuts that can contribute perennial food, an array of value added products, and biofuels. Could this be true or are they just nuts?

American Hazelnut, photocredit “Corylus americana Tree Record.” 1995-2018. May 29, 2018. <https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/corylus-americana>

Apparently, the american hazelnut is more than just a nut. It is 81% oleic acid, making it one of the healthiest oils available and also a superior feedstock for biodiesel and other bio-industrials. It’s claimed that hazelnuts grown in Nebraska have shown the potential to yield twice as much oil per acre as soybeans, which is a step up in the attempt for sustainable biofuels. Aside from these special value added products, The Upper Midwest Hazelnut Initiative describes their use in trail mixes, nut clusters, nut butters, and on their own all while lending itself to mixed regenerative and perennial agriculture approaches. Hazelnuts are among the nut trees we’ve been planting in urban orchards because they can be grown as a bushy shrub and kept to a very manageable size through pruning- a perennial food source indeed if you can keep ahead of the squirrels!

Photo credit: The Gleaning Project

Also in the room were fellow gleaners in South Central PA taking on food waste in a big way with The Gleaning Project. Much larger than our own POPHarvest gleaning program but something to strive for, The Gleaning Project has over 120 partners and is gleaning over 300,000 lbs of produce, feeding over 26,000 food-insecure individuals each year! This effort started as a volunteer side project of two growers in Adams County, Jan and Jerry Althoff, under a national faith-based gleaning and food recovery non-profit. After 4 years of expanding the Gleaning Project alongside running a nursery business, the effort was ultimately adopted by the South Central Community Action Program and has grown into what it is today. This story demonstrates the power of dedicated volunteers and good hearts, and we are glad to see you shine.

Unassuming, yet evenly spaced walnuts trees. Photo credit: Small Acts Ecological Design <http://smallactsecodesign.blogspot.com/>

And check this out! If you want to see why planting fruits and nuts is a good idea, you’ll have to check out the remnants of John W. Hershey’s tree nursery in Downingtown, PA. Mr. Hershey is said to have worked very hard  toward the improvement of native fruit and nut trees in the region during his time. While the land his nursery existed on had been sold after his death with houses and buildings subsequently built throughout, much of his work still stands tall today. We’ve heard of bur oaks that produce low tannin content acorns, large american persimmon trees, grafted thornless honey locusts, large grafted Northern pecans, hicans, hickories, walnuts, shagbarks, and sweet pignuts that still stand from the original nursery, and we plan to take a trip soon to investigate further!

The knowledge and experience present at the nut grower’s meeting was rich, diverse, and in this observer’s opinion, should be thoroughly documented and distributed. We heard from tree crop growers young and old, including new permaculture-based Hundred Fruit Farm in Buckingham PA; Wild Ridge Plants with their edible, medicinal, and native offerings; and even how to plan for your farm’s succession when you start to worry about reaching that age.  The reason we were all there together? We are passionate about one thing. . . which is, absolutely, nuts! These folks seem to be on to something, however, so we hope to connect again soon.

Links:

http://pnga.net

http://www.nynga.org/cInfo.htm

https://www.midwesthazelnuts.org/why-hazelnuts.html

https://thegleaningproject.org/

https://www.growveg.com/guides/a-guide-to-growing-your-own-hazelnuts/

http://northeastedible.com/northeast-edible-blog/a-visit-to-john-w-hersheys-defunct-tree-crops-nursery

http://blog.pennlive.com/gardening/2014/10/hershey_gardens_is_going_nuts.html

www.hundredfruitfarm.com/

www.wildridgeplants.com/

http://smallactsecodesign.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-former-site-of-john-w.html


This blog post written by POP 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.  

2018 POP Winter Newsletter

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“Many families, staff and volunteers were able to taste a fresh fig for the first time! They were all surprised at the difference between a fresh fig and a fig newton.” — Carolann Costa, Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

Happy Figuary!  We thank you for supporting our vision of a more beautiful, bountiful Philadelphia. Here are some highlights from POP’s fall season: 

  • Planted our 1,206th fruit tree and supported our 59th community orchard site!
  • Celebrated our 7th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with over 1800 participants at harvest festivals and orchard events across the city
  • Assisted with brand new orchard plantings with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and South Philadelphia High School
  • POP’s new school orchard program published our first complete orchard-based lesson plan
  • Celebrated POP’s 10th Anniversary and were featured in PHS’s GROW Magazine
We hope you will take a few minutes to read below about some of the interesting people and stories we encountered along the way. 

FALL 2017 SEASON SUMMARY


ORCHARD PLANTINGS

POP’s core work of planting and supporting community orchards in the city continues to grow, and we are now working with 59 different orchard sites in neighborhoods across the city! 204 volunteers joined with us and our partners at 14 orchard planting events this fall. Brand new orchards were planted with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and South Philadelphia High School. We also expanded existing orchard sites at Bartram’s Garden, Tilden Middle School, Bartram High School, Pastorius Community Gardens, Monumental Baptist Church, Lea Elementary, Sayre High School, Penn Park, and Jewish Farm School. To read more about our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.


SCHOOL ORCHARD PROGRAM

2017 was the kickoff year for POP’s new School Orchard Program. Education Director Alyssa Schimmel collaborated with POP’s 12 city school orchard partners to begin developing a database of materials to activate the orchards as centers of learning and exploration. Across all sites, POP was able to teach 250 students through 44 school visits, with 14 formal lessons delivered in 2017. Read more about POP’s new school orchard program here! 


ORCHARD EDUCATION

POP continues to educate our orchard partners through diverse offerings including orchard care workshops, consulting visits by POP staff, POP TIPS shared through the Philadelphia Orchard Group (PHOG), and the Philadelphia Orchard Project Blog. This season’s educational programs included workshops on jam-making, fruit tree care, permaculture, and harvest and use of orchard plants. Join us for our upcoming 4-part POPCORE orchardist training course at Bartram’s Garden in March!


ORCHARD WEEK & HARVEST FESTIVALS

This year we celebrated our 7th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with over 1800 participants at orchard sites across the city. Events included orchard plantings, work days, harvest festivals, cider pressing, plant sale, crafts and games, volunteer opportunities, and more!  In addition to POP’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in September, we also kicked off the holiday season with a Winter Wassailing event at Awbury Arboretum in December. Join us for our first ever Fig Fest coming up on February 24!


ORCHARD PARTNER STORIES

Every year we ask our orchard partners to reflect on the year in the orchard, and to share stories about what the orchard is providing for their community:

“We have three sweet cherry trees that had a great harvest this year. Fruit gets a lot more attention & excitement than vegetables, which spread to our surrounding community. The cherry harvesting was a large gathering event, and we had people of all ages picking off cherries. Many people did not know that cherries came from trees. A lot of neighborhood children got to climb the tree to pick off the cherries, which one of them told me was a “magical experience”.

— Marta Lynch, FNC Poplar Learning Farm

Read more partner stories here!


2017 Orchard Partner Survey Summary

Results of our 5th annual partner survey provided valuable feedback showing the impact of POP’s programs and guiding our efforts to provide the best support to our partners. This year ‘Beauty and Neighborhood Greening’ was rated as the highest value of the orchard spaces. Partners reported 4385 individuals participated in caring for POP orchards in 2017 (twice last year’s total); another 4681 tasted something grown in a POP orchard; and 5386 used them as a gathering space. The survey again showed that almost all orchard produce is distributed within the neighborhood where it’s grown, including 57% harvested by or given for free to community members. POP partners reported total harvests of 3689 pounds of orchard produce. 81% of POP partners participated in the survey this year and as a thank you, POP is distributing a requested orchard item, including pruning tools, pole harvesters, produce scales, and guidebooks to all participants.

Read more survey results here!


POP Blog

POP’s urban orchard blog continues to cover a variety of topics in ecological orchard care as well as highlight our plants, programs, partners, and volunteers.  You can follow our blog or search it for past topics.  Some recent posts include:

POP Orchard Feature: Jewish Farm School

POP History 2016 & Volunteer Highlight: Angelina Conti

POP History 2015 & Volunteer Highlight: Tony Dorman

POP Fig Varieties and Introducing Megan Brookens: A Fellow Fig Lover!

POP History 2014 & Volunteer Highlight: Ryan Kuck

Fall Foraging: Crabapples and Gingko Nuts and Leaves


WAYS YOU CAN HELP!

Your Amazon purchases can benefit POP at no cost to you. 

You can direct Amazon to give a percentage of all purchases to POP.

Workplace donations through United Way, Earthshare, Benevity

POP can now accept workplace donations via United Way (#53494), Earthshare, and Benevity: ask your employer about how to set up tax-exempt contributions and matching donations to support our work. We are also now able to accept stock transfers, so you can divest, and then invest in planting the future with POP!

Join POP’s Committees

We’re always looking for more good volunteers for POP’s operating committees! To help our Education Committee with developing new blog content, educational materials and curriculum, please contact Alyssa Schimmel (alyssa@phillyorchards.org). To assist our Events Committee with organizing fundraising events or helping with outreach activities, please contact Tanya Grinblat (tanya@phillyorchards.org). Experienced volunteers are invited to join POP’s Orchard Committee and work directly with our orchard partners; for more info contact Michael (michael@phillyorchards.org).

Volunteer at Orchard Plantings and Events

POP’s fall event season will be announced soon! To receive updates about upcoming volunteer opportunities, please sign up for our volunteer list on our website (phillyorchards.org/volunteer/signup).

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 2012 & Volunteer Highlight: Danie Greenwell

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“Dollar for dollar, a donation to POP will do a lot. It will most likely be used to plant a fruit tree or bush that will continue to produce high quality food for years to come. ”
-Danie Greenwell, 2012 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.

Cider pressing at the 2nd annual Philadelphia Orchard Day at Woodford.
Philadelphia Orchard Project History: 2012
In 2012, POP planted our 500th fruit tree and our 1000th berry bush in Philadelphia and involved over five hundred volunteers from across the city in planting and caring for community orchards.  We celebrated our second annual Philadelphia Orchard Day with harvest festivals, cider-pressing, pumpkin-painting, and lots of fresh fruit at POP partner sites in neighborhoods across the city. POP also hosted author and orchard all-star Michael Phillips for an intensive Holistic Orchard Training.  Orchard Director Phil Forsyth was promoted to Executive Director.

POP ORCHARDS PLANTED in 2012:  Overbrook Environmental Education Center, Carousel House Farm, Hunting Park Community Garden, Urban Sustainability Leadership Academy
NUMBER OF POP ORCHARD SITES SUPPORTED IN 2012: 39
POP NEWSLETTERS: Summer 2012Winter 2012
2012 GOLDEN PERSIMMON VOLUNTEER:  Danie Greenwell
2012 POP BOARD PRESIDENT: Kim Jordan
POP helped plant a community orchard in North Philly’s Hunting Park in 2012 in a partnership with Hunting Park United, the Fairmount Conservancy, and Philadelphia Parks & Rec with additional support from the Junior League of Philadelphia.

POP VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT: Danie Greenwell

Danie Greenwell was one of POP’s founding board members and has continued to serve as the organization’s volunteer bookkeeper and an invaluable adviser since leaving the board in 2011.

Like many good things, POP was formed around a dining room table – specifically Liz Mednick’s. Over weeks and months in 2007 and 2008, a few of us sat around that table and tried to figure out what it was we wanted, how we would set ourselves apart from other greening organizations, and how we would get funding.

While I come from a family of farmers and ag experts, planting is not my strength. Instead, I prefer the behind-the-scenes organizing that it takes to put an organization together. While ideas are great, it’s the follow-through that translates an idea into action. At the time POP was forming, I was heavily involved in an organization that trained young people to be nonprofit board members. Area experts came into talk about budgets, fundraising, volunteer coordination, legal responsibility, and strategic planning. I did my best to train other board members on these areas and then set up the accounting policies and created a budget. We recruited experts like Domenic Vitiello, Michael Nairn, and Anne Taylor to sit on the board of directors. We called the IRS dozens of time to try to move our 501c3 application along. We created electronic organization for financial records, marketing materials, and contact lists.

As anyone who has started a nonprofit knows, there is a steep learning curve at times. Board members over-commit and then cannot deliver; donor letters get forgotten; insurance gets dropped because the post office box was not working properly. But we had patient supporters who would spend their time fixing the problems and creating better systems. Generous donors would remind us to send them a letter for tax purposes and then send in another donation, just because.

I hosted a house party for POP because to this day, I still think it is the best way to get people invested in the organization. I invited a LOT of people to my very small apartment and served them as many foods with locally-grown ingredients as I could. Board members lugged in cases of beer. Phil spoke about POP’s work. I was blown away by the generosity of friends. Most were grad students and nonprofit workers and yet we raised $1700 in one evening.

Currently, I serve as the volunteer controller for the organization. I make sure that donations get into the bank and then are used to plant orchards. As a person who spends hours poring over nonprofit financial statements and 990s, I can assure that POP is in a good place. Our spending is “lean” and we have very little overhead. Dollar for dollar, a donation to POP will do a lot. It will most likely be used to plant a fruit tree or bush that will continue to produce high quality food for years to come. I am very happy to still be part of this wonderful organization a decade later!

Proof is in the planting! Golden Persimmon volunteer Danie Greenwell helps in the dirt as well as watching POP’s books.

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 2007 & Founding Manifesto

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In honor of the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we’ll be looking back at a different year in our history every month, starting with POP’s founding in 2007.  We’ll also designate Golden Persimmon Awards for each year in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers.
POP founder Paul Glover at the site of POP’s first orchard planting in South Philly in 2007.  Photo: Laura Pedrick for the The New York Times. 
Philadelphia Orchard Project History: 2007
The Philadelphia Orchard Project was founded in 2007 by alternative economic development pioneer Paul Glover, with a vision to transform the city of Philadelphia into the Next Great Orchard (see Glover’s founding POP manifesto below).  The first meeting of the Philly Orchards Project, as it was originally named, was held at Glover’s residence on January 26, 2007.  This potluck meeting was attended by 7 individuals, including Phil Forsyth, who later became POP’s first staff member and current Executive Director.  Glover inspired Forsyth and scores of other volunteers to help make his vision happen, including a dozen individuals to volunteer as POP’s founding Board of Directors.  Liz Mednick was also key as POP’s founding legal adviser, helping create POP’s bylaws and incorporating the organization as a Pennsylvania non-profit.

POP ORCHARDS PLANTED in 2007:  United Communities (later known as the South Philly Teen Orchard), Grupo Motivos (later known as the Tertulias Orchard), and Cambria Orchard
2007 MEDIA COVERAGE: Replacing Neglect with Peach Trees, NY Times
2007 GOLDEN PERSIMMON VOLUNTEERS:  Paul Glover & Liz Mednick
2007 POP BOARD PRESIDENT: Domenic Vitiello
Norris Square planting
Iris and Tomacita, founders of Grupo Motivos, at the POP orchard planting in Norris Square in fall 2007. The orchard is now known as Tertulias and new orchard plantings are expected at other garden lots in the Norris Square neighborhood in 2017.
PHILLY: THE NEXT GREAT ORCHARD

by Paul Glover, 2007

Philadelphia will become the “next great city” by rebuilding itself as a refuge from expensive oil and gas.

Peak Oil, global warming, de-industrialization, the rise of China and Europe, the declining dollar, population growth and limits to U.S. military power are combining to end cheap fuel, cheap food, cheap homes, cheap consumer goods and cheap land. Everything will soon change.

Most American cities have paved themselves into a corner. To survive, they bring food and fuel from great distances. They are like armies camped far from their sources of supply.  All will transform, or fade.

Philadelphia, in the midst of this storm, has an advantage no other American metropolis has– 40,000 vacant lots and empty buildings. Since 1955, hundreds of thousands of solid industrial jobs have been stolen from Philadelphia workers. When these jobs shipped away to Asia and Latin America, many Philly neighborhoods were destroyed.

Today these huge derelict areas allow us to create a future that works.  They are a blank canvas for painting a city that will be stronger, more beautiful, more abundant and fair than any in our hemisphere. Big Money says fill these vacancies with cash machines: condos, casinos and headquarters that pay major taxes– don’t pay attention to approaching storms. Yet if we did so, Philly would become instead the “next failed city.” Smart Money says something different.  There are billions of dollars to be made by becoming the first American metropolis to grow most of its own food.

Thousands of acres of urban orchards here will multiply their harvest value, by creating many categories of related jobs and thus reducing the costs of crimefighting, jail building and incarceration.

Getting neighbors outdoors working together makes neighborhoods safer. Giving kids valuable farm skills builds career confidence and pride. Happier kids resist drugs. Trees provide cleaner air, better nutrition and better exercise, which means less public cost for healing sickness. Their shade reduces costs to heat and cool homes. Tourists will come here to enjoy the scene, and learn how we did it.

Amid these orchards we can construct clusters of supremely energy-efficient earth-sheltered housing, needing one tenth the fossil fuels to warm and cool them. Ecological colonies (ecolonies) grow food on roofs, recycle rainwater and greywater. These neighborhoods would be linked by light rail and bikepaths. Some streets can be reclaimed for gardens and play.  Property values would rise and neighborhood businesses bloom.

All of the above notions are proven practical elsewhere. We need merely to welcome them here, setting the nation’s pace for greatness. Our challenge is to make these likely by proper zoning and tax incentives, buying and planting land.

The Philly Orchard Project (POP) organizes the skills and capital to make this happen. You’re welcome to join us at our potluck meetings, to donate land and money for trees, to connect us to people with orchard skills, and to neighbors willing to help.
Solid Rock Paul
POP’s founder, Paul Glover (center), continues to lend a hand at POP events in addition to leading a wide variety of other innovative efforts to rebuild Philadelphia as a vital, just, and green city for all.

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.  

Orchard Partner Stories: a look back at 2016

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Every year we ask our orchard partners to reflect on the season and to share stories with us about what the orchard provides for their community. Below are some of our favorites excerpts from 2016 celebrating the beauty, abundance, and power of orchards to serve as an engaging place of discovery and connection.

 

Historic Fair Hill

This year, our tiny little asian pear trees fruited. We planted them two years ago. Each pear was perfect. We must have harvested 20 lbs of pears–and those are only the ones that I was around for! Many neighbors for about two weeks were walking around, munching on pears. For two more weeks, I had people coming up to me saying, “Are there any of those pears left? They are so good!” I told them that in five years there would be more fruit growing here than we can imagine. They’d always smile like they were watching something incredible far away.  I like seeing people imagine their fruit trees five years bigger.

— Staff Gardener

The sweet-tart fruit of the nitrogen-fixing goumi at Awbury Arboretum.
The sweet-tart fruit of the nitrogen-fixing goumi at Awbury Arboretum.

Awbury Arboretum

I remember bringing a regularly visiting Awbury volunteer group of men to the POP orchard one summer day last year to help. We were weeding I think.  It seemed sort of boring at first, but then someone offered us to try goumi berries off a bush that was full and ripe with the berries. At first my group was hesitant, saying they had never heard of the fruit, but I think  all the men and everyone else there eventually tried the goumis, and this had an interesting effect our experience that day in the orchard.
We began to talk about fruits we liked growing up, remembering what plants our families grew in their gardens, and sharing almost forgotten herbal home remedies for illnesses our parents gave to us. 
The time we spent in the orchard that day helped us get to know each other more and  brought us closer together. I can see how gardening is a comfort and life changing at the same time. It reminds us of so much; yet it also spurs us to take hold of the present and dare ourselves. It helps us to try new things and to still reflect on our experiences and learn more about ourselves and each other.

— Leslie Cerf

 

Overbrook School for The Blind

Our students were able to taste figs for the first time from our fig tree. They would check the tree almost daily to get the figs before the squirrels! In late November, we made fig jam with the students. To quote our student, Elijah, when he tasted the jam: “It’s the bomb dot com!”

— Roseann McLaughlin

 

Tulpehocken Station Orchard

One Saturday, when a few volunteers were working in our train station garden, a woman using a cane appeared among us with a hand outstretched. It turned out she is a neighbor who is a retired professional gardener and now takes the train every morning to Chestnut Hill to spend time at the library and at other favorite haunts. She remembered when the train station grounds were a dump (literally), and said she loves what we have been doing to make it beautiful. She wished she could volunteer to work with us, but her physical limitations prevented that, so instead she handed us a check for $100–a big deal for our small coffers!

— Marjorie Russell

 

Pentridge Children’s Garden

Every year, including this one, the neighborhood kids have their eyes on the apple trees for ripe fruit. As soon as they start sizing up, they come through the gates excited to bring some home to their families. We have to be careful that we wait until they are truly ripe, but we do let them try them as they ripen so they can compare different stages. Some kids down the block from a Laotian family bring home some under-ripe fruits for processing. The garden is therefore a symbolic and actual source of abundance and joy for the kids and families who live nearby.  

— Owen Taylor

Volunteers planting a rain garden including a variety of edible plants at Lea Elementary.
Volunteers at Lea Elementary planting a rain garden including a variety of edible plants.

Lea Elementary

Our orchard empowers exploration. The Edible Fruit Forest rests in a school yard. Built and supported, mostly, by the community, the school attendants, from student to staff, [initially] paid it no attention. They hadn’t yet noticed that the space being developed on their grounds was for them and their use. Now, there are teachers touring, students exploring, and staff stooping under trees for lunch, noticing and acknowledging the space in simple, interactive ways.

— Kaamilah Milton

 

Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission

This year, we had a lot more raspberries to harvest and share. We served the raspberries in small cups to the guests that came for meals. Most of the guests had never tried raspberries before, so they were really appreciative that we shared these fresh harvested fruits with them. It is also popular after their lunch for a healthy snack. We never felt this happy to share.

We have transformed part of the farm as a seating area. This space is important for the men in the Overcomers program to have a quiet and safe place to go and relax their minds. Visitors, volunteers and staff love to use this space to have lunch, gathering, and connect.

— Meei Ling Ng

 

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 Newsletter: Summer 2016

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“Knowing that I can return to an orchard twenty years from now and see a tree that I helped to plant is very gratifying!” 
-Tony Dorman, Orchard Liaison Volunteer
We thank you for supporting our vision of a more beautiful, bountiful Philadelphia!
Here are some highlights from our spring season:
  • Planted 32 new fruit trees, 244 berry bushes and vines, and 493 perennials & groundcovers at community orchards across the city!
  • Assisted with brand new orchard plantings at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and Penn Alexander School
  • Involved 800 volunteers and 1300 participants in more than 90 events including plantings, orchard work days, harvests, and trainings
  • Celebrated our 8th annual Strawberry Festival
  • Kicked off our first ever Juneberry Joy week, harvesting 285 pounds of juneberries
We hope you will take a few minutes to read below about some of the interesting people and stories we encountered along the way.  
Ronald McDonald House volunteers helping at the FNC Lighthouse Orchard!
Please read below for more info about POP’s latest efforts:
  • spring season summary
  • orchard update: Bartram’s Garden
  • upcoming events
  • POP in the news
  • how you can help!

Spring 2016 Season Summary

 
Orchard Plantings.  POP’s core work of planting and supporting community orchards in the city continues to grow, and we are now working with 54 different orchard sites in neighborhoods across the city!  244 volunteers joined with us and our partners at 10 orchard planting events this spring.  Brand new orchards were planted with the Penn Alexander School in West Philly and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House in North Philadelphia. We also expanded existing orchard sites at Lea Elementary, Penn Park, Overbrook School for the Blind, Casa del Carmen, Philadelphia Montesorri Charter School, Awbury Arboretum, and PhillyEarth at the Village of Arts & Humanities.  To read more about all our orchard partners and view a map of POP sites: phillyorchards.org/orchards.
Volunteers sheetmulching at the Penn Park Orchard, preparing it to be planted as a food forest! 
POPharvest.  This year’s inaugural Juneberry Joy campaign was a delicious success!  From June 7 through 14, we held 7 harvest events throughout the city, picking 285 pounds of juneberries with the help of over 100 volunteers. That’s 285 pounds of fresh fruit saved from going to waste! Many more community members learned of their local orchards, dozens of passersby learned to love this underappreciated berry, and new partnerships with local food and beverage businesses were forged. This year’s Juneberry Joy partners included Li’l Pop Shop, MagPie Artisan Pie Boutique, Weckerly’s Ice Cream, Sazon Restaurant and The Chocolate Alchemist, Funky Fresh Ferments, Higher Grounds Cafe, Random Tea Room, W/N W/N Coffee Bar, and Spruce Hill Preserves! Patrons were able to taste things such as juneberry goat cheese popsicles, juneberry pie, juneberry swirl ice cream, juneberry chocolate bars, juneberry kombucha, juneberry scones, juneberry tea, juneberry salsa, juneberry jelly, and juneberry fruit leather!
Want to participate? Request to join the POPHarvest Google Group for notifications of future harvests!
Our first ever Juneberry Joy campaign was a delicious success! 
Orchard Education.  POP continues to train and educate our orchard partners and the general public about ecological orchard care through a variety of programs.  Over 400 individuals participated in POP educational programs this spring with workshops and trainings on topics including fruit tree care, pruning, grafting, backyard mushroom growing, permaculture and edible eco-system design. We continued our POP TIPS series shared through our Philadelphia Orchard Group (PHOG) listserv and featured the following topics on our new urban orchard blog:

Strawberry Festival
To kick off our summer season we held our 8th annual strawberry festival in partnership with East Park Revitalization Alliance and Historic Strawberry Mansion! Over 100 community members came together on a beautiful June day to harvest strawberries, juneberries, eat a potluck feast, play games, and enjoy the beauty of the Historic Strawberry Mansion orchard. There was even a bee keeper on the grounds to educate us all about bees, beehives, and even give a taste of honey straight from the hive!

Picking strawberries from the Strawberry Mansion Orchard at POP’s 8th annual Strawberry Festival!

Orchard Spotlight: Bartram’s Garden
Big changes are in the works at Bartram’s Garden, the country’s first garden and home of the largest community orchard in the city.  This season, Bartram’s Garden unveiled their first major garden restoration in nearly 100 years. Construction is also underway on the Bartram’s Mile trail, which will connect the Garden to the popular Schuylkill River Trail in Center City as well as provide a new river park and bikepath in Southwest Philadelphia.  Finally, this summer the Farm at Bartram’s Garden has entered a new phase as a neighborhood-based program to support food sovereignty and youth empowerment in Southwest Philadelphia.
To celebrate POP’s commitment to and support of the Farm in its transition, please join us for our Orchard to Table Dinner to be held at Bartram’s Garden on Tuesday, September 13.
The Farm at Bartram’s supports youth empowerment and food sovereignty in Southwest Philadelphia!
Since its founding in 2011, the Farm has always been a hub for learning, sharing, and growth-not to mention delicious food!  With support from POP, the first fruit trees were planted in the Farm’s Orchard in the fall of 2011. The Farm now hosts more than 120 fruit and nut trees, as well as extensive berry plantings.  The Orchard demonstrates the breadth of what can be grown in our region, and its diversity helps illustrate John Bartram‘s significant legacy as a plant collector.  Plantings include heirloom varieties of apples, pears, and other common fruits; unusual fruits like medlars, jujubes, che, and shipova; and a section of native fruits including paw paws, persimmons, and American plums.  Many of the orchard trees are really starting to produce, leading to bumper crops of Nanking cherries, plums, figs, and the first almonds from a POP orchard!

POP Internship Program
This year POP has again expanded our internship program and are proud of the work of 2016 Orchard Apprentice Alkebu-Lan Marcus and POP interns Alyssa Schimmel, Lucia Kearney, Eliza Norrell, and Bridget Downey. POP’s internship program is essential for the organization in expanding the support we provide to our orchard partners while providing young folks with opportunities to get involved with urban agriculture and sustainable living.  This year’s apprentice and interns have been assisting with a wide variety of orchard care, education, gleaning, propagation, and outreach efforts.
“When we gather around to plant, it’s not just a tree that grows, but the whole community grows together.” 
-Bridget Downey, 2016 POP Intern

Read more about Bridget’s POP Internship experience here!

2016 POP Intern Lucia Kearney harvesting Nanking Cherries at Awbury Arboretum!  Photo: Rob Cardillo

Upcoming Events
 
Orchard to Table Dinner, 9/13
Save the date for our Orchard to Table Dinner in collaboration with the Farm at Bartram’s Garden!
 
Pie Making Class with Magpie Artisan Pies, 10/1
Learn to turn one of our prized native fruits into an irresistible baked good with one of Philly’s most talented fruit-fueled businesses! Space is limited to 12 people, so sign up fast!
 
Philadelphia Orchard Week, 10/8 through 10/16
Celebrate our 6th annual Philadelphia Orchard Week with us at a wide variety of harvest festivals, plantings, plant sales, and other orchard events across the city!
More details on the above events and our full fall planting schedule will be announced soon. 

POP in the News!
This season POP was featured in the following media coverage:

How You Can Help! 
Give a fruit tree in celebration or honor of a loved one!
$60 plants a fruit tree in Philadelphia that can provide a community with 150 pounds of fruit per year for decades to come.  Give a gift that keeps giving back!
Your Amazon purchases can benefit POP. . . at no cost to you. 
You can direct Amazon to give a small percentage of all purchases to POP.
Join POP’s Committees 
We’re always looking for more good volunteers for POP’s operating committees!  To help our Education Committee with developing new blog content, educational materials and curriculum, please contact Robyn Mello (robyn@phillyorchards.org).  To assist our Events Committee with organizing fundraising events, tabling at events, or for info about hosting a house party for POP, please contact Tanya Grinblat (tanya@phillyorchards.org).  Experienced volunteers are invited to join POP’s Orchard Committee and work directly with our orchard partners; for more info contact Phil Forsyth (phil@phillyorchards.org).
Volunteer at Orchard Plantings and Events
POP’s fall event season will be announced soon!  To receive updates about upcoming volunteer opportunities, please sign up for our volunteer list on our website (phillyorchards.org/volunteer/signup).
Please use the forward email function below to send this newsletter to friends and family who are interested in our mission to plant and support community orchards in the city of Philadelphia.
Sincerely,

Phil Forsyth, Executive Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project

POP Intern Experience: Bridget Downey

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2016 POP Intern Bridget Downey

The first day I interned with POP was at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. It was the first day of March and incidentally the morning after my beloved dog passed on. We started many perennial seeds in the Federation of Neighborhood Centers’ greenhouse space, and it felt like a good way to honor the cycle of birth, reproduction, and death. I believe this is what growing food does: it allows us to fully accept the truths of life, co-create with the Earth, and find meaning. Especially in the chaos and bustle of the city, when I arrive to an orchard site I am greeted by smiling faces and waving fruit trees, immediately feeling at home and safe. I get to meet people from each orchard neighborhood, hear about their lives and perspectives, and forge bonds while pruning, planting, and harvesting from fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs.

These shiso seedlings, and many other species, are now growing in orchards throughout the city!
These shiso seedlings, and many other species, are now growing in orchards throughout the city!

Those seeds we planted the first day of March have sprouted and grown quite big since then, moved out of their trays and pots and into their new homes in orchards all across Philadelphia with trees, vines and shrubs, we potted from bare roots at POP’s Awbury Arboretum nursery. Orchards take patience, but I know the plum trees and blackberry bushes I helped to temper this spring at orchard sites will soon produce and give generously to those who give attention and care to their sweet fruits. I have learned a tremendous amount about all of the various fruit-bearing trees that we can grow in Philadelphia, from the common fruits like apples, peaches, and cherries to fruits I had never heard of before like juneberries and pawpaws. I’ve learned how to identify many by their bark, flowers, and fruits through direct experience and writing blog posts–even though taste tests are my favorite way of getting to know the plant! On top of this I have learned many common weeds to eat or remove, pests and how to manage them, diseases from which trees can suffer, and how to generally care for the trees and their homes.

We are in the peak of summer now, and plums, peaches, apples, blackberries, and raspberries are all ripening. Sweet fruits of our combined efforts are coming to fulfillment! I am so grateful to be cultivating deep-rooted relationships with plants, with people, and with communities who surround them. When we gather around to plant, it’s not just a tree that grows, but the whole community grows together. Through this work, we are strengthening our ties to each other and the Earth.

Helping Wildcrafting Summer Campers at Awbury Arboretum to start a fire to brew herbal tea.
Bridget helping Wildcrafting Summer Campers at Awbury Arboretum to start a fire to brew herbal tea. 

Orchard Report: Overbrook Environmental Education Center – Summer 2015

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“If knowing was a prerequisite, then we would have never started.” Jerome Shabazz started Overbrook Environmental Education in 1998 by teaching at Overbrook High School. As he saw grades continue to improve, he wanted a way to accommodate continuous student engagement and sought the space at 61st and Lancaster Avenue for hands-on education, and thus birthed the continuously expanding Overbrook Environmental Education Center.
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“It’s a transformational space”, Shabazz said, both literally and figuratively. They first pulled out forty tons of trash from the former EPA Brownfield site, transformed the land, and are now transforming the lives of community members through programming and training. Keyonna, 18, one of OEEC’s six summer WorkReady students from the Philadelphia Youth Network, gave me an enthusiastic tour. “I like this program,” she said. “I didn’t know anything, and now I know a bunch. I go home and tell my mom ‘You should get a rain barrel’, and next year we’re going to have a garden!” OEEC has engaged an additional 6,900 students since 2002.

Continue reading Orchard Report: Overbrook Environmental Education Center – Summer 2015