6th Annual Fest is the Best!

October 3, 2016

sm crop Ingela at the press 29464700174_9918fb8688_oHalf way through our 6th annual cider fest I strolled down the path and saw volunteers Jennifer and Liz sitting comfortably on the orchard bench, feet dangling. I realized then that the number and quality of volunteers at this year’s Cider Fest were so superb that these two hard workers were able to take a break to soak up the warmth of both the sun and the wonderful visitors.

Grinning greeters garnered four new volunteers and sold every slice of pie. We also sold donated sm joan greeter WP_20161002_008handmade items. We can now replace the maligned garden forks, fix the mattock and purchase a big roll of floating row cover!

We tossed 170 3-ounce cups into the yard waste so we know we had about 140 people stop by.

sm musicians WP_20161002_004Every year we stress about whether we will have enough apples for the cider-pressing event. This year, however, City Fruit gleaners came through big and dropped off nine boxes of apples for our use. The gardeners at the Good Shepherd Center and at Magnuson orchard were also looking out for us. Hurrah!


Thank you so much to the hard-working crew and all of the generous neighbors and visitors.sm cropped girl w apple WP_20161002_012

Ana M, Kate M, Cassie B, Becky C, Nancy H, Liz A, Joan D, Nora L, Jennifer K, Mitch, Laura, Kristin M, Alice E, Nancy M, Ingela W, Max M, Michelle P, Charlie D, Janet S, Sylvia B, Renee J, Mary G, Lynn G, Bob M, John H


Sun, Oct 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Nov 20, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Dec 18, 2-4, Work Party

The Apple Sleuth

September 6, 2016

Lori Brakken, apple ID expert and landscape architect, volunteers tirelessly in her efforts to further frame before plants DSCN0748people’s enjoyment of fruit.┬áLast weekend, she graciously invited me to observe an apple ID session. Thinking that identifying apples would be an outdoor job, I donned my hat and sunglasses and paid her a visit.

her espalier Brian W pics (6)We did start the day in her small side yard where over 160 apple varieties are in espalier (see before and after photos), but only because it’s the gateway to her indoor study.

Inside, she grinned and set out a chair for me right next to her computer and three well-worn reference books (listed below). She picked up a cross section of a piece of apple, looked at me, and made a proposition – “Red Astrachan”.

I was not sure the name was the apple variety or the customer who brought the apple for her to ID. I nodded my head and listened until enough clues came my way to be able to conclude that, in fact, this Russian apple variety should be known by any appleholic. Still, how she leaped from just smelling and then looking at an orangish red apple to naming it a Red Astrachan I will never know but, that’s why Lori is in high demand. We didn’t even wade through the unique detailed online apple ID software program she developed; we just read in detail all of the descriptors (see quiz) from her old reference books in order to confirm the ID!

This past summer the National Park Service recruited Lori to visit an historic heritage orchard in cropped a Lori Brakken1Whiskeytown, California (photo) where she took pictures of varieties from trees planted in the mid 1800s. Again, most of the work was done after she arrived home, looking through the books and matching the characteristics against her photos of the tops, bottoms, cross sections and longitudinal sections of the various apples.

Lori brighter WP_20141025_016If you want Lori to ID your apple, you too can get in line at one of the fall fruit shows listed below. I am warning you though; don’t be that person who stands in line polishing your apple with your T-shirt. She will cringe. PLEASE don’t handle the apple any more than you need to.

Also, here is your second warning. When you finally face Lori and wait patiently for her to slice and dice, smell, taste and measure and ponder … she may look up at you, and, when you lean in to hear the answer, it might be, “Can you bring some samples back next year so I can be sure?”

Take the quiz! Match the word to the definition

Name Definition
1 sessile __ depression at the blossom end
2 scarf __ depression of the stem end of apple
3 russet __ outer protective layer in the bottom of the blossom end
4 ribbed __ tough inside wall of carp
5 obtuse __ seed cavities (usually five)
6 oblate __ shaped more like a tomato
7 hulls __ having rather blunt ends, or rounded off rather abruptly; not sharp
8 crown __ a delicate powdery coat on the surface of fruit that can be rubbed off
9 cavity __ roughened outer skin that can not be rubbed off
10 carpels __ the position of the core being closer to the stem
11 calyx __ longitudinal ridges (versus smooth)
12 bloom __ dull brown rough finish on the apple
13 basin __ the apex of an apple, on the blossom end

How to get your apple identified:

Bring 4-6 apples from the tree with the stems intact. Try not to handle too much and don’t wash them. Tell her all you can about the apples: When do they ripen? How long do they keep? If you can have an idea how old the tree is, that helps. How tall is the tree? When does it flower? All these clues will help figure out what variety of apple you have.

Bring your apple to one of these events:

Piper’s Orchard Festival of Fruit, Saturday, Sept. 24, 10-2, Carkeek Park, Seattle, WASeattle Tree Fruit Society monthly meeting, Saturday, Oct. 8, 10-12, The Brig at Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA
Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Sunday, Oct. 9, 10-6, Chimacum, WA
Vashon Island Fruit Club monthly meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6-8pm, Vashon Island, WA
Oregon Home Orchard Society All About Fruit Show, Sat (apple ID) and Sun Oct. 15 & 16th, 10-4, Canby, OR
Peninsula Fruit Club Fall Fruit Show, Saturday, Oct. 22, 10-4, Bremerton, WA

Favorite Reference Books of Lori Brakken:

‘The Apples of New York’ by Spencer Ambrose Beach
‘Apples’ by John Bultitude
‘The Book of Apples’ by Joan & Alison Richards Morgan

Ruth Callard

Learning and Sharing

August 15, 2016

This morning, FECO volunteer Sue Hartman hauled over 10 pounds of produce to the food bank 160328 food bank bed plan HartmanColor0001 croppedfor the 13th time. Her walk is shorter now that the University Food Bank re-located to Roosevelt Ave N, just north of NE 50th St.

Thus far, FECO has contributed the following foods to the food bank: kale, chard, collards, lettuce, radish, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, onion, blueberries, and potatoes. Still to come: tomatillos and, hopefully, apples.

Sue knows her stuff. She works the Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline, coordinates the Tilth garden and teaches in the education program. Her own yard could easily be mistaken for a nursery!

Sue and food bank bed WP_20160509_001From design to harvest Sue manages the FECO food bank bed. As she toils away, she tells you the difference between a leaf roller and a leaf minor, whips up a climbing cage for the cukes that will shade the tender lettuce, and reminds you which fall crops should not be seeded until September. We are thankful for her level of experience and her willingness to share all that she knows.

Sat, Aug 20, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong
Sun, Aug 21, 10-12, Work Party
Sat, Aug 27, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong
Sat, Sep 3, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong

The grand opening celebration of the new University Food Bank (http://www.udistrictfoodbank.org/) is this Wednesday, August 17, from 6-8pm. The food bank and cafe are on the ground floor, there is low-income housing on the next several floors and roof top small WP_20160809_024there is a rooftop garden with 2,000 milk crates full of vegetables. Don’t miss this opportunity for a tour!

Hannah Duffany, Grocery Rescue/Farm Manager, says they especially appreciate donations of fruit and shelf stable vegetables like winter squash, garlic and onions.

Happy harvesting!