I am not an "orchardist," or a "pomologist" (someone who is schooled in the study and cultivation of fruit). I am just a lover of fruit (and fruit trees) - like so many folks - who is learning more and more as time goes on.
Friends, last May the Urbanite invited local organizations to submit poster proposals (graphics and 500 words) to compete for their Healthy Food Challenge project.
The BOP submitted a poster - created by a great team from the Carey Business School - along with 53 other organizations and initiatives. You can find this remarkable, and colorful, exhibit of ideas that are designed to address hunger in Baltimore here. Great ideas and great potential partners.
But this is also a competition! So please go to the site and vote for the Baltimore Orchard Project poster! We are listed in alphabetical order along the left side of the page!
Thanks so much.
Pam Warhurst offers up a compelling vision of how we can make the under-utilized and wasted spaces around our homes, businesses and buildings into productive places of food, and build a kinder, more nourishing and more resilient world in the process.
It is about food, but much more. It is about reimagining how we live on this earth, how we live with each other, how all our small deeds really can add up to something Very Big, like a different way of being with and for each other. Check it out here - on her Ted Talk.
This blog was created by BOP Intern Morgan Mullaney.
The Baltimore Orchard Project picked up a beautiful book yesterday at the historic Johns Hopkins Homewood House Museum. It was Barbara Wells Sarudy’s Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake 1700-1805, a great read for those interested in the social and practical history of local gardening. In researching further, we discovered Sarudy’s lovely, picture-filled blogs. In one of her posts, she portrays a typical colonial property, rich in orchards. With a focus on Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Baltimore, she presents the life-cycle of the harvest, from the planting of these orchards, to the harvesting of apples for hard cider, and the drying of the fruit for winter. The jackpot for our project is the list of heirloom fruit trees she lists, many of which we hope to bring back to our city and neighborhoods.
The basic point is that we cannot continue to pit energy (in this dramatization, played by the wires) against the enviroment (played by the trees) as if they were competitors in a dog fight. Civilization, all the world's creatures, life itself need both. Indeed, the two are bound one to the other.
Energy comes from the environment and nowhere else. And a healthy environment must create energy to live.
A hundred years from now our great-grandchildren will look back at us and wonder what in the world were we thinking?
There is nothing but lack of will that prevents us from creating the future of our dreams. We need to flame the public will, press our elected officials and convince the business community to do the right thing.
Soil Testing Sites
Wondering about testing your soil? Check out this soil testing primer from MD Extension Service.
The story is told of the massive oak beams in the ceiling of College Hall at New College, Oxford. New College was founded in 1379 and the dining hall was built shortly thereafter.
While oak is a durable wood, sooner or later it is likely to need repair. And so it was, about 100 years ago, five hundred years after its construction, that the age-old beams were found to be "beetly".
The problem was, where would they find replacement beams to match the mammoth beams that needed to be removed?
Oxford had an ancient tradition of keeping on staff a College Forester who, as you might imagine, was responsible for managing the university's forests. So the Forester was called in and queried as to where they might find lumber appropriate for this historic task.
No problem, he replied. When the original carpenters built the hall, they also planted oak trees. The tradition of this planting and the place of this congregation of oak had been passed on through the centuries from Forester to Forester. He would show them where they would find their oak.
Whether this story is true is hardly the point.
The lesson it teaches is true regardless. Just as we build today with gifts our ancestors planted or left for us yesterday, so we must plant or leave gifts that our children will build with tomorrow.
As we eat today from fruit trees planted years ago, so we must plant today so we and our children can eat tomorrow.
by BOP Intern Sebastian Lim
Baltimore City, on the surface, seems to be a congregation of expansive businesses, busy people, and a lively harbor. However, just a few miles outside its downtown area, in the small neighborhood of Waverly, lies a hidden treasury of fruit trees. Over the years, Forager Greg, through curiosity and passion, found and gleaned from these forgotten gems within the community as a personal hobby. He discovered entire blackberry, apple, grape, and fig trees that grow an abundance of fresh fruit, enough for several buckets. However, up until last Monday he kept this discovery private.
Rabbi Cardin, Intern Elena Makansi, and I were lucky enough to join Greg in exploring Waverly and some of the undiscovered fruit trees in this colorful neighborhood. We began our journey at the Giant Supermarket on 33rd Street and made our way east through Waverly and then west along the edges of Charles Village. Amidst the vibrantly painted residences we found two small public orchards, two enormous blackberry bushes, three apple trees, an Asian persimmon tree, grapevine, and other fruit trees.
While traversing through the quiet streets, Greg showed us his home. He introduced us to his hardworking wife Cindy, who brought us to their backyard. It was full of color and life, ranging from soy plants to a plum and fig tree, samples of which they generously offered us. When I say that was the best tasting fig I have ever eaten, I mean it (and I have eaten plenty of figs!)
However, what was most memorable during our tour was when we met a gracious couple with an apple tree. Standing in the back alley next to this glorious old tree, Greg called out to see if anyone was home. A few moments later, from the balcony above our heads, the owner came outside and greeted us. He explained that the apple tree was having some problems, and unfortunately, we could tell. The trunk was covered in galls (small bumps), and the apples bore a few spots. His wife and daughter, whom we had passed taking books to her mother’s house next door, joined us. She told us she was eager for someone to help with their fruit tree.
“We would be more than happy to share our apples with you,” she said. “But the tree has been having problems. I called a few people to take a look at it and tell us what’s wrong and what we could do, so its not like I haven’t been trying. I love this tree.”
We exchanged contact information and agreed to connect her with local training programs we are organizing with the Baltimore City Extension Service .
Sadly, in our walks we also discovered that in the past two years alone, a robust grapevine and a prolific pear tree were cut down by their owners, for no other discernible reason than they were not wanted.
It hurts to see that, especially in a city where one in five residents lives in food deserts. The BOP is here to help harvest unwanted fruit, to take this unwanted “waste” and turn it into “abundance.”
We welcome your assistance. Please register the fruit trees you know about, like the couple’s apple tree or Greg’s backyard garden. Every productive tree can help others in Baltimore not only gain fresh access to fruit, but also see and understand the hidden gifts the community holds. That gift is not only the gleaned fruit, but also the charity and kindness of fellow neighbors.
In his 2011 book, Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning, Timothy Beatley (he teaches about sustainable communities at the University of Virginia) writes:
Any conception of a biophilic city is one in which access to nature is viewed as essential to a meaningful and happy life and thus something that that all individuals and neighborhoods are entitled to.
Translated into practice, this would mean that no one would be more than short walk - one or two blocks at the most - away from green space which feels authentically like nature - mostly because it is authentic nature. It could be nature in the raw - a lot left to reclaim its urban wildness, or human guided - waterwalls, flowers, community gardens, urban orchards. It could be shared space, that is, a commons, or protected and preserved private space.
And while access can mean many things, in this case it optimally means entry into this charmed green space - although just seeing, smelling and hearing nature close up can also be soothing, healing, connecting, restorative.
While a better name for this urban initiative might be creating Natural Cities, Beatley puts out an invaluable call to integrate nature and buildings so that, in the words of Bill McDonough, we design "buidings like trees, cities like forests."