Christmas at the Mansion: Timeless Traditions

 

This holiday season in Nebraska City, Nebraska, guests of Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm are invited to “Christmas at the Mansion,” a unique opportunity to experience what the holidays were like during J. Sterling Morton’s era. Arbor Lodge, the 52-room mansion, is decorated in its Christmas best and ready to help visitors get into the spirit of the season with vintage décor, special holiday-themed collections on display, tour hosts in period clothing, and other one-of-a-kind touches that make for a memorable wintertime visit.

staircase-poinsettias

Red poinsettias and Christmas greens flank the grand staircase at Arbor Lodge, J. Sterling Morton’s 52-room mansion in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Christmas at the Mansion is available weekends through Dec. 20, 2015 — Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, with an exclusive after-hours look at the mansion also available from 6:30-8:00 pm; and Sundays, 11am to 5pm. Admission ranges from $4 to $10 per person.

The Morton Family regularly hosted dignitaries and well-known guests in their home, and the mansion was often a haven for close friends and extended family during the Christmas season — where music and laughter often filled the halls, where lavish meals were served, and where traditions were kept.                                                                                        

CATM_Dinner Table 02

The Morton Family and distinguished guests gathered at Arbor Lodge for lavish holiday dining, complete with Christmas crackers, similar to the ones shown here.

However – and perhaps not surprisingly – J. Sterling himself was vehemently outspoken against the practice of cutting down healthy trees for Christmas décor purposes. A November 1899 edition of Morton’s three-column weekly newspaper, The Conservative, railed against the tradition, calling it the “mutilation and destruction of the young pine forests,” and adding that “the future generations will want for lumber which these Christmas trees would have made.”

 Regardless of where you stand on the issue of real vs. artificial trees, if you find yourself in Nebraska City, Nebraska, this holiday season, the Christmas at the Mansion experience is one not to be missed. We welcome you to step back in time and see the magic of the holidays through the lens of this distinguished family, and take home some memories of your own.

Complete details about Christmas at the Mansion are available online here.

 

Cider Press at Arbor Day Farm

If you’ve ever watched the TV show “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel, you’ll appreciate this brief look at how Arbor Day Farm’s apple cider press works.

Arbor Day Farm has had a cider press for many years at the Apple House Market, but it was more of a museum showpiece than a functional cider press. Then in 2012, the press was overhauled and brought back into service — much to the delight of our fall season visitors (and their taste buds).

New parts were ordered. A new UV treatment machine arrived. The health inspector approved the changes, and Arbor Day Farm’s cider press was re-born.

Any kind of apples can be pressed for cider; we’re currently using a mix of Ozark Gold, Honey Crisp, Jonathan, and Braeburn apples from Arbor Day Farm’s apple orchards. This “recipe” will change over the season as different apple varieties ripen. Pressing takes place as needed all season long, and visitors can watch the cider press in action from large viewing windows inside the Cider Room.

If you’re visiting Arbor Day Farm this fall, we invite you to stop in and have a look — and take home a gallon or two of this fall season treat.

The Preservation Orchard: Arbor Day Farm’s Legacy

Heirloom Apple from Arbor Day Farm:

Heirloom Apple from Arbor Day Farm:
Claygate Pearmain

We’re all familiar with the apples readily available in the supermarket and at local orchards this time of year: red delicious, gala, granny smith, jonathans. But what about the lesser-known varieties that have—for one reason or another—fallen out of the spotlight?

The Preservation Orchard at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, is full of these obscure apple varieties — 65 varieties, to be precise — some of them dating as far back as the 1500s. Some have interesting back stories that rival their appearance and flavor, while others just simply fell out of favor. Unlike today’s common apple varieties, which are bred for beauty and to withstand the rigors of modern food transportation and storage, these vintage apples are a sensitive, finicky lot — with delicate skins and flesh, a short window of ripeness, and the heirloom apple trees themselves often times have not survived the gradual changes in climate where they once thrived.

Heirloom Apples from Arbor Day Farm: Arkansas Black.

Heirloom Apple from Arbor Day Farm: Arkansas Black.

Not only is this very special orchard at Arbor Day Farm focused on preserving the unique apples of yesteryear, but it’s a living record of some of the finest known apples and a genetic repository that may one day help create varieties well-suited to a changing climate. The Preservation Orchard is one of just a handful of orchards in the United States where these rare heirloom apple varieties can still be found.

A visit to Arbor Day Farm this time of year — when a plethora of apple varieties are ripe and ready for picking — offers visitors the rare opportunity to taste the wonderful flavor of some of these old varieties. Heirloom apple tasting is a huge hit with visitors on fall weekends, as Nature Interpreters first show-and-tell about the Preservation Orchard itself, then slice and serve the rare fruits of its branches.

A few antique apple varieties worth noting:

  • Almata: red to the core, and not much more. This apple with reddish flesh has an interesting look but is not particularly flavorful.
  • Claygate Pearmain: common in Victorian-era gardens, this heirloom apple has a nutty aroma and a potato-like appearance.
  • Kandil Sinap: tall and cylindrical, this vintage apple originated in Turkey in the early 1800s. Crisp and juicy with a sweet and sour flavor.
  • Arkansas Black – a medium-sized apple from the 1840s. Glossy, dark red skin almost turns black when stored.

This apple season, be sure to visit Arbor Day Farm’s Preservation Orchard for a unique look at — and perhaps even a taste of — the apples of yesteryear.

Applejack Festival in Nebraska City: A Preview

Aerial view of Applejack Festival, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Image courtesy Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce.

Aerial view of Applejack Festival, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Image courtesy Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce.

Nebraska City, Nebraska, could be best known as the birthplace of Arbor Day — the tree planter’s holiday, first founded here in 1872 by renown resident J. Sterling Morton. Arbor Day is the community’s first and foremost celebration, and certainly the one with the most lasting of legacies.

But 140+ years later, another Nebraska City festival has picked up steam in a big way — the annual Applejack Festival, a community-wide celebration of an abundant apple harvest that attracts several thousand visitors to pick apples, sip cider, and otherwise enjoy a classic fall season getaway.

Sept. 18-20, 2015, marks the 47th annual Applejack Festival, and we invite you to join us at Arbor Day Farm for all the fun.

A few highlights of the weekend festival include:

Friday, Sept. 18:

Paul Phillips plays live music at the Apple House Market.

Paul Phillips plays live music at the Apple House Market, Arbor Day Farm.

6-9pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market:
Live music from Paul Phillips; food & drinks available for purchase. Open late for extended shopping.

Saturday, Sept. 19:
9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure:
apple orchards open for you-pick; Discovery Rides departing hourly (10am-5pm); corn maze, face painting, bubble making, hike the trails and the 50-foot high tree house; hayrack shuttle service to various points of interest at Arbor Day Farm. Food trucks will be onsite serving your favorite foods.

9am-6pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Historic Barns:
Craft Show, featuring 40+ booths of hand-crafted items. Food available for purchase.

9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market:
shop for apples by the bag or box; caramel apples, apple pies, fresh-pressed cider; Arbor Day Farm wine tasting.

The mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park

The mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park

9am-7pm at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park:
tour the historic mansion and carriage house; Model A car display.

Sunday, Sept. 20:
9am-7pm at the Tree Adventure:
apple orchards open for you-pick; Discovery Rides departing hourly (10am-5pm); corn maze, face painting, bubble making, hike the trails and the 50-foot high treehouse; hayrack shuttle service to various points of interest at Arbor Day Farm. Food trucks will be onsite serving your favorite foods.

9am-5pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Historic Barns:
Craft Show, featuring 40+ booths of hand-crafted items. Food available for purchase.

Orchard-fresh apples are ready for purchase at Arbor Day Farm's Apple House Market, Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Orchard-fresh apples are ready for purchase at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market, Nebraska City, Nebraska.

9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market: shop for apples by the bag or box; caramel apples, apple pies, fresh-pressed cider; Arbor Day Farm wine tasting.

9am-7pm at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park:
tour the historic mansion and carriage house.

Download the Applejack Schedule in PDF form here, or check out how the entire Nebraska City community is celebrating Applejack here, which includes a parade, car shows, plenty of apples, multiple craft shows and more.

Hoping to stay overnight at the all-new Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm? Rooms sell out quickly in the fall season, but please call our Reservations line to check the latest availability: 800-546-5433.

We look forward to welcoming you to Arbor Day Farm this weekend — and all fall season.

Three Can’t-Miss Fall Events at Arbor Day Farm

All across Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, you’ll find plenty of fun — and that’s never been more true than in the hustle and bustle of the fall season.

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do at the Tree Adventure year round, from the 50-foot-high treehouse soaring into the tree canopy, to the interactive hands-on learning kiosks in the pavilion, to the wooden beam bridges that traverse South Table Creek, the waterway famously noted in Lewis & Clark’s diaries.

But this time of year — arguably the most special season of all for a visit — all 260 acres just come alive with a crisp fall breeze in the air, apples ripening in the orchard, and golden leaves crunching underfoot along the hiking trails. Pair all of that with a calendar full of classic fall events and activities, and you have the makings of lifelong memories.

Here’s a preview of three fall season events you won’t want to miss at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

1. Applejack Festival: Sept. 18-20. This city-wide celebration of an abundant apple harvest is nominated this year as one of USA Today’s Top 10 Fall Festivals, and for good reason. During this celebration weekend, around 60,000 visitors trek to Nebraska City — including to Arbor Day Farm — to pick apples, sip cider, watch the parade, take in a classic car show, and find treasures at multiple arts & craft fairs. It’s the kind of celebration that attracts generations of families for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with picturesque orchard scenes and plenty of fun for all. It’s not to be missed. See the complete Applejack schedule for 2015.

Tree Climbing Weekend
Tree Climbing Weekend

2. Tree Climbing Weekend: Oct. 3-4. When’s the last time you climbed a tree? Maybe when you were 10? Maybe never? Tree Climbing Weekend at Arbor Day Farm is your opportunity to harness up and shimmy your way skyward in an old oak savanna. There’s even small-scale climbing options for the younger set. Tree climbing activities are included with regular Tree Adventure admission, and it’s always a popular draw.

 

The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm
The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm

 

3. Oktoberfest Celebration: Oct. 11. Arbor Day Farm’s historic barns — carefully restored to their original beauty — are the perfect setting for classic German food, German beers, and yes — a live polka band. Lied Lodge’s Chef Thomas is himself German, so we have it on good authority that his Oktoberfest menu selections are as authentic as they come. Show up hungry and thirsty; you won’t leave disappointed.

For complete details about these upcoming events and others at Arbor Day Farm, check out the online Events Calendar.

From the Lied Lodge Cookbook: Apple Pie Egg Rolls

It’s early September, and that means one thing at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska: apple season is here!

The earliest varieties of apples are ripe now — like Paula Reds — with many more of your favorite varieties ripening in the weeks ahead. Check out Arbor Day Farm’s Apple Variety Guide, updated for the 2015 apple harvest season, to see when your favorites are at the peak of freshness in our orchards. This year’s apple crop is shaping up to be a good one, according to Arbor Day Farm Orchard Manager Adam Howard. Nebraska’s cooler, wet weather earlier this spring has lead to a slightly earlier-than-normal harvest season this fall — but the quantity and quality of apples remains very good.

Chef Thomas

Chef Thomas

Also at Arbor Day Farm, the fully-renovated Lied Lodge & Conference Center appreciates having acres of orchard-fresh apples grown right on site — especially Executive Chef Thomas McKinney-Stehr. Chef Thomas finds new ways to incorporate these ripe, juicy apples into delicious menu items for his guests in the Timber Dining Room, Lied Lodge’s full-service award-winning restaurant.

Chef Thomas was kind enough to supply the following recipe for apple pie egg rolls (plus a caramel sauce for dipping) from his Lied Lodge cookbook. This sweet dessert is a nice alternative to a traditional apple pie, but still a great way to capture a classic fall season flavor.

Apple Pie Egg Rolls
6 ea Arbor Day Farm apples, peeled and diced
8 ea egg roll wrappers
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 pinch nutmeg

Add diced apples to a hot pan and add sugar directly after. Cook over medium heat until sugar starts to brown. Add spices and butter and cook until thick. Allow mixture to cool and spoon into eggroll wrappers. To roll, place the wrapper so it looks like a diamond (rather than a square) and fold corners into the middle, pulling the bottom over the filling and tucking it in. Finish rolling so the eggroll stays tight and seal off the top corner with a little water. Lightly fry in 325 degree oil.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream

Add sugar to a pan and cook over medium-high heat until sugar starts to turn amber. Swirl the pan rather than stir it or the sugar could crystalize. Once the sugar is a nice amber color, turn off heat and carefully and slowly add heavy cream and stir until incorporated. Mound with butter and allow to cool slightly.

To plate: cut eggrolls on a bias. Spoon caramel sauce into the bottom of a bowl and add 4 pieces of eggrolls. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

Urban Forestry Plan is Key to Weathering the Storm

Let’s face it: no one likes to think about natural disasters, with their potential for devastation of our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and livelihoods. We’ve shared on this blog before about some of the communities hit hardest in recent years by natural disasters, and told the inspiring stories of citizens returning hope and healing to the places they call home.

Even still, there’s simply no way around it. Natural disasters are a fact of life.

When a natural disaster strikes a community, trees are invariably involved and many

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

times on the losing end of the event. Using the framework of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program, sound urban forestry management has proven essential to loss prevention and recovery of our treasured trees.

The scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring and that, in many cases, it is making natural disasters worse. Any planning to mitigate disasters should also include planning to reduce human-caused acceleration or magnification of climate change.

According to a survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nearly three-quarters of U.S. cities are now seeing environmental shifts that can be linked to climate change. More than 1,000 city leaders have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A healthy canopy of trees plays an important role in this effort. Trees need to be considered a vital part of every city’s infrastructure – right alongside the bridges, roads, sewers, electrical, and telecommunication grids – and appreciated for the natural workhorses that they are. For proof, one need not look further than the great role trees play in taming stormwater runoff during and immediately following natural disasters.

Sound urban forestry management through the framework of the Tree City USA program has been proven to be essential time and again. In fact, green infrastructure is the only part of a city’s infrastructure that actually increases in value and service over time.

Whether for preventative measures or recovery efforts, here are four key ideas your community needs for the best possible outcomes:

  • Communities with an established budget for tree care are in a better position than those that must compete for grants or appropriations. If your community is a recognized TreeCity USA, your community allocates the standard minimum of $2 per capita in a community forestry program.
  • Be prepared with an emergency management plan – and even better if it specifically includes a storm contingency plan. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a matter of IF you’ll need it, but rather WHEN you will.
  • Take time to “get it right” after a disaster. As in most things, it’s far better to move slowly with deliberate, well thought-out decisions and wise judgment than to rush into hasty action. This is particularly important when considering where reconstruction efforts will take place across a community and where trees should be replaced.
  • Lean on the expertise of your local tree board and their extensive list of contacts. These people will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to actually do the work of replanting trees.

For more information on best practices and ways your community can recover from natural disasters, see Tree City USA Bulletin #68.

Donate Now: Plant trees where they’re needed most.

 

Treating Trees: Good Advice from a Girl Scout

Here at the Arbor Day Foundation, we have members, advocates, and supporters from all walks of life, representing all corners of the globe, and encompassing all ages.

In part, that’s because the good work of planting and caring for trees spans all boundaries – physical, geographical, socio-economic, and many others.

And we love hearing from these advocates. They’re caring, passionate people who lead interesting lives and who have wonderful stories to tell.

This week, our Member Services team received an email from a young lady in Newark, New Jersey, named Victoria Ribeiro.

Girl ScoutsVictoria is a high school-aged girl scout who is working on earning a Gold Award, the highest award given by the Girl Scouts of America. All Gold Award projects must begin with identifying an issue about which the scout is passionate and end with educating and inspiring others on the topic.

Clearly, Victoria is passionate about trees, and we can honestly say we were inspired by her work. Her Gold Award project, an educational PowerPoint presentation entitled Treating Trees, “…seeks to educate the residents of the city of Newark so that they will be able to identify hazardous trees.”

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro's presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro’s presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

Victoria’s email continued: “I must make my project have a global/national impact. I looked at your website and saw that [the Arbor Day Foundation] didn’t really have any program that the residents of a city could help identify trees and make his/her community a better place to live. I am emailing you in the hopes that you may possibly create a program similar to mine to make other neighborhoods a safer and better place to live.”

Victoria, we commend you on your excellent presentation and how you’re helping to educate your fellow citizens on trees and tree care. We’re proud to share your work with others who can learn from it for greener, healthier neighborhoods — in Newark and beyond.

Thank you for sharing your passion for trees, and we wish you much succes on your way to earning the Gold Award.

Download your own copy of Victoria’s Treating Trees presentation.

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Forest Stewardship: A Tribute to our Fallen Heroes

At the Arbor Day Foundation, our hearts and prayers are with the families of the Arizona Wildland Firefighters.

Our forests belong to all of us, and we share an indebtedness to the courageous men and women who fight fires in our forests, including the 19 members of the elite Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Arizona HotshotsTheir passing is an all-too-poignant reminder that wildland firefighters’ public service includes putting their lives on the line to protect America’s natural resources.

We thank them for their selfless service and honor their memory.

We need our forests to be healthy — not only to provide clean air and water and wildlife habitat, but also to be resilient to the damage that wildland fires cause. With higher temperatures, drought, forest disease and pests, and severe weather events, we won’t be able to prevent the increasing threat of fire.

Yet, we can plant trees to bring forests back to health. Forest stewardship is one way we can pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

> Plant Trees in Memory of a loved one 

Next stage of green roof sprouts over downtown Lincoln

Green Roof Project - Lincoln, NELast week, Arbor Day Foundation employees took to their office rooftop with plants and vines in hand, ready to bring the next stage of their green roof project to fruition.

The first installment of the green roof took shape nearly three years ago at 12th and P Streets in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, when workers installed 7,369 square feet of green roof and planted it in sedum and native grasses. Read more…