Tag Archives: volunteers

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

City Matching Grant Transforms Community Orchard

February 15, 2016

It’s time to review 13 months of orchard infrastructure work, an extensive effort funded with a Seattle Department of Neighborhood (DON) Matching Grant. We are especially thankful to Allynn Ruth (DON) for securing a four-month extension of time to complete our work. Construction took longer because we did most of the work ourselves and also maximized use of recycled materials. Vale la pena! We all learned some cool new skills.

With Max’s help, we created a slide show to illustrate the steps for all five of our major projects: shed move, shed rebuild, cistern pad and cisterns, city water, path, garden beds and trellises.

Shed Move – We had to move the shed several feet in order to make room for cisterns. Ropes were threaded under the shed and tied to a long bar on each side. Five strong people per side pulled up on the bars, shuffled several feet and then set her down on new pavers. The cost was zero but 85 volunteer hours were needed for planning, leveling, cleaning out shed, tearing the old roof off and dismantling it to reuse the wood. We made eight new friends.

1 roof remove 1 sm WP_20141221_005 old roof coming down sm WP_20141221_016 3 pre move rope tie sm 15548923974_bad44bc6ef_k 4 shed move 1 ropes attached sm WP_20141221_042 part way thru move sm 16145485776_33ed270f31_k recycle old roof sm WP_20141221_034

Shed Rebuild –  Volunteers rebuilt a previously-donated shed in order to catch roof water and to increase storage capacity. Once we chose the cistern size, the shed design followed; the lower edge of the roof needed to be ten feet from the ground. We made calculations, checked our calculations, made calculations and checked our calculations. Most of the hammering was done in a weekend. We spent $4,100, which included materials for build-out of the inside of the shed. Volunteer hours were roughly 816 and we made nine new friends.

1 pushing up the new pony wall crop sm WP_20150207_018 2 secure pony from inside sm WP_20150207_015 3 ken rafter sm WP_20150207_021 4 shed before fascia sm WP_20150208_002 5 guy putting fascia sm WP_20150208_001 6 nearly finished sm WP_20150217_011 screws on roof WP_20160127_004

Cistern Pad and Cistern –  We were told we had the best pad the cistern installer had ever seen! We used cedar for the frame and we used a skill saw to make half-lap joints. The pad frame contains a layer of sand, then crushed rock. Total cost of the pad was $640 (think cedar). Two 1,500-gallon cisterns, plus install and other misc costs was $3,826. The effort took about 85 hours.

cistern pad half lap joint 07.dado cistern pad Justin & ruth level frame sm WP_20150118_005 cistern sand before gravel sm WP_20150121_002 150121 pad with grave sm l WP_20150121_003 150418 cistern connection to gutter  0957 cistern install overflo valve DSCN0931 150418 good of both & shed 0960

City Water – We added city water as a backup to the cisterns. Pacific Landscaping dug a trench, laid 250 linear feet of plastic pipe, and installed valves, vertical pipes and spigots. We used recycled wood and dug posts into the ground to secure the pipes. The hard work came next: backfilling and replacing sod. Total cost was $9,700, including $8,700 to SPU for installing a meter and repairing a patch in the street.  120 Volunteer hours were logged in.

excavator water pipe trench sm WP_20150603_020 path water valves DSCN0924 PRV between shut off and drain WP_20150604_002 trench with pipe sm WP_20150603_015 backfill from chestnut drain sm WP_20150603_034 small file spigot WP_20150713_004

Crushed rock path – Hurrah! You don’t need swamp boots to traverse the area in the winter, that is, unless you stray off the path. We spray painted the 577 linear foot path and designated areas for the dug up sod to be dumped. Pacific Landscaping came back and, with a front loader, they dug up the sod and dumped it into future garden bed sites. During our planning meeting, when the number of wheelbarrow runs of rock was estimated to be 230 trips, several handy volunteers jumped at the chance to try a mule and a walk-behind front loader. We laid down Geotec cloth in the muckiest part of the path and then spread 40 cubic yards of crushed rock and compacted it, all within a weekend.  The cost was $3,660. This includes $1,670 for crushed rock, $520 for tool rental, and $880 for excavating. It took 280 volunteer hours and we made six new friends.

lining out path and dirt areas sm WP_20150816_009 Michelle good excavation  20472227378_5a0420249a_o sm retaning wall path sm WP_20150820_008 082015 curves of excavated path sm  WP_20150820_002 fabric cloth under gravel path WP_20150819_001 150822 overall view DSCN1675 150822 max rc jeff w loader DSCN1678 sm 150823 compacting WP_20150823_013 sm 150823 Melton on path WP_20150823_003 sm

Garden Beds and Trellises – After a much needed break, we started piecing together garden beds. About 50 tons of dirt needed to be pushed around and molded. Nine garden beds were made: five mounds, three Faswall framed beds and one rubble framed herb spiral. Surely we have the only Octagon in town; no one else would so be naive not to realize how laborious it would be to build one. Our herb spiral doubled as a drainage improvement project; we buried a couple of large logs under the spiral. We also made three grape trellises from old metal pipes and hose clamps. Concrete blocks were partially dug in the ground to house the trellis uprights. Rebar was then pounded into one concrete block cell and concrete was poured and mixed in both cells.  Costs were $2,524 hours, the largest cost being $1,300 for the Faswall bed frames. 265 hours have been logged in and we have six more new friends. .

mound bed WP_20151105_001 sm Renee Liz digging spiral photo7 rubble construction spiral WP_20150909_001 spiral planted WP_20151105_004 sm 150925 long bed layout pre construction Ken IMG_2361 Ken drillling panels sm WP_20150929_002 dirt in long bed WP_20151018_002 sm octagon WP_20151001_003 0ctagon recent WP_20160120_007 151107 Sherry & Annie al fin IMG_2367 nan with hose clamps WP_20160206_011 mix concrete WP_20160207_16_22_00_Pro sm jeff whole system WP_20160112_001

Costs to date are $32,000. In addition to the costs above, we spent another $8,000 for: art , tools, supplies, tree move and removal, food, plants and gifts. The required volunteer match to earn a $32,000 grant is 1,600 hours. We have far surpassed that goal with 3,153 hours and counting! Total new friends since the grant start date is 56.

Within the next couple of months, we will finish the garden beds, plant new fruit trees and vines, and complete the native plant section in the south end.


CIDER FEST – Celebrate the Harvest Season

October 15, 2014

We accomplished so much but let’s focus on the harvest! Apples, pears, honeyberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries took center stage.

Liberty & Spy

Liberty & Spy

By the end of April all fruit trees, but for the William’s Pride, had flowered nicely. The Willam’s Pride was the only tree to offer fruit last year and it has slight biennial properties.

At the June 15 work party, the crew culled the apples to one every six inches and to one per cluster. (One volunteer agonized over cutting out fruit, but accepted the practice as good for the trees and the fruit.) After the culling, our beginning inventory was:




Pear-                                        Apple-
Rescue-1                                 Liberty-59
Highland-0                               William’s Pride-59
Orcas-2                                    Honeycrisp-16
Harrow’s Delight-3                    Northern Spy-21
Early Fuji-11

Oh, Fuscum! The four-way pear has a bad case of pear trellis rust and ours is not the only case in town. The fungus is hard to beat due to the juniper trees in the neighborhood (the alternate host of gymnosporangium fuscum). http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/scripts/query/displayProblem.asp?tableName=plant&problemID=802. Nevertheless, in August we gleaned two Orcas, one Rescue and two lovely small sweet Harrow’s Delight.

Oh, Rats! Something bit the Liberty apples and broke branches. I asked for confessions but no one came forth. Hence, we enforced the Tanglefoot treatment. Yes, rats can jump, but we calculated that they would not want to climb down a trunk of the sticky, gooey mess.

On August 24, we picked up the first drop, a Liberty. On that date, there were 59 Liberty, 20 Northern Spy, 14 Honeycrisp, and 8 Early Fuji. The two William’s Pride had been picked but I salvaged one from behind the fence. It was mighty big and good and it weighed in at 13.5 ounces.

After the William’s Pride came the Honeycrisp, changing color dramatically toward a streaked red. On August 22, I picked one and let it sit five days. Hmm, delicious. One of the largest, it weighed in at 14.5 ounces.

Oh, furry flying beasts! Coddling moth damage was apparent on almost all of the apples. Luckily, the apples are still perfectly edible. Perhaps we will test out nylon footies next year, to discourage the moth from laying her eggs. No sign of maggot fly or scab! (Did you know that the worm can munch away on an apple even when it’s in the refrigerator?)

During September, we played the ‘when are apples ripe’ game. We tested the drops as well at apples picked. Some were put in bags in the basement, some in the refrigerator and some on the counter. Dates were noted when they dropped, when they were picked, how many days they sat, either in the refrigerator or on the counter, and when they were eaten. Some were shuffled off to volunteers for opinions. In the end, it was terribly confusing but we are learning when our apples are ready to pick for short-term storage.

The Liberty was prime mid-September. The Early Fuji was likewise mature. Work party volunteers reported the fruit was scrumptious with cheddar cheese.

Today, there is still one Northern Spy on the tree. The biggest one picked was 15.5 ounces and it will make it into a donated apple pie this Saturday at the Cider Fest!

Sat, Oct 18, 2-5pm, Cider Fest!
Bring your neighbors.
Sun, Oct 19, 2-4pm, Work Party
Sheet mulch and shed planning.
Sat, Nov 1, 2-4pm, Work Party

The Maraval chestnut had a setback from sitting in a bath for three weeks this past spring; the tree was an eyesore by June. Based on advice from Bernie at Washington Chestnut Co., we cut it back severely.

The hardy kiwi needs about five years to bear fruit. And, just to slow the process down at bit, the leaves turned yellow this summer. They did perk back up after we added nitrogen. Onward and upward.

Orchard work seems a lot like soccer … a game of mistakes. However, we are learning and many thanks to our wonderful mentor and master pruner, Ingela Wanerstrand. Hurrah also to the 40 volunteers who have given over 1,200 hours so far this year!


141009 Shitake from FECO 915Time to be paying attention to those Shitake logs! This is my first mushroom from the FECO log inoculation last fall. It’s nearly convex so it’s past its prime. Still, we devoured it.

I was less than diligent about watering this summer but I would often douse them with laundry water. Mid-September, I soaked the logs for 24 hours to stimulate the fruiting: 12 hours in the garbage can, then upside down for another 12 hours. Nine days later, voilá!