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

Danielle Gift, Urban Forester, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

 

giftWhen Danielle Gift was ten years old and in the fifth grade, she received her first 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.  So began her love of trees and the natural environment, a passion that intensified as Danielle grew.  While in high school, she was active in the ecology club.  At Northern Arizona University, she earned an undergraduate degree in forestry and focused on ecological restoration, inspired by a desire to make a difference in urban areas as cities increasingly encroach on forestlands. This desire to make a difference lead her to continue her studies at Virginia Tech University, where she participated in a Tree Campus USA planting, and where she earned a graduate degree in urban forestry.

Central Park Summer

Photo Credit | Flickr, Kevin Dooley

Now employed full time as a city forester in New York City, Danielle sees how her life path has been connected by her love of trees.  From her first Arbor Day Foundation trees, to Tree Campus USA, to the community forest of New York City. And Danielle Gift loves her work, characterizing it as “better than I had imagined.”  Continuing, she shared, “I feel like I’m making a difference.”

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

We Live in a Connected World

More than a century ago, noted conservation leader John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to the rest of the universe.”

We live in a connected world. Certainly today, with cell phones, the Internet and Facebook, you might say people are more connected with each other than ever.

But as I recall that long-ago quote from John Muir, I think of examples of how people are connected to Arbor Day Foundation members and supporters in a different way. We are connected through the heart…caring and supporting others, sometimes on the other side of the world…as we carry out our shared mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.

I recall the story of Danielle Gift who as a young child began loving trees when she nurtured the 10 baby trees her parents received from the Arbor Day Foundation. Her connection to those Arbor Day Foundation trees years ago led to a career as a professional forester in New York City today, where she cares for trees enjoyed by millions of fellow citizens.

Julio Fernandez

Julio Fernandez Aguilar

I recall the story of Julio Fernandez Aguilar who we met high in the Andes’ rain forests of Peru. Julio is a coffee farmer, enthusiastically planting trees to reduce erosion, improve the soil and establish a lush canopy to protect his shade-grown coffee bushes. Foundation members supporting our Rain Forest Rescue program are connected to Julio and his family. The program purchases his high-quality coffee beans to roast here. As we offer the beans to coffee drinkers throughout the U.S., thousands more people are connected to Julio in Peru.

women of madagascar

The Ready Women of Madagascar

In the November/December edition of Arbor Day, you’ll meet some of “The Ready Women” who live on the African island nation of Madagascar. Support from Arbor Day Foundation members is providing them with jobs to lift them from poverty as they plant thousands of fruit trees for food and to restore habitat for endangered wildlife. The connection we share with our tree-planting mission here at home connects us directly with fellow tree-planting citizens on the other side of the world.

We live in a connected world with many examples of how our love of trees connects us with others. The trees we plant in our own backyards, and those we make possible in far-away forests seem to be “hitched” through our caring and support. Thank you for your part.

Matt Harris
Matt Harris
Chief Executive

Give-A-Tree® Cards – A Unique and Memorable Holiday Gift

Every Card Plants a Tree

Celebrate this year’s holiday season with friends and loved ones while supporting conservation and tree planting with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation.

Returning for the fifth season in a row, Give-A-Tree® cards from the Arbor Day Foundation offer a unique holiday giving opportunity with conservation benefits that will endure for generations. For the first time this year, Give-A-Tree cards can be purchased individually and with customized text.

Bright and beautiful Give-A-Tree Cards from the Arbor Day Foundation help bring America’s National Forests back to life by planting a tree in honor of the recipient. The Arbor Day Foundation will send the gift-giver the cards to sign and give to their family, friends, customers, and associates. Each card does more than send a wish. Give-A-Tree Cards are a gift that lasts a lifetime.

GAT Happy HolidaysGAT seasons greetings

 

 

 

A selection of dozens of Give-A-Tree Holiday cards is available at http://shop.arborday.org/category.aspx?zcid=158

Faces in Forestry

Bob Roney:  Park Ranger, Master Naturalist, and lifelong steward of the land

Bob Roney has worked in Yosemite National Park for parts of six decades. The park enthralls him as much today as when he first set foot there in 1967.bob roney

“It’s like falling in love really,” he says. “You know when you first meet somebody and you just want to learn everything you can about them — it’s been that way for me for forty years.”

Learn more about Bob’s work and love for Yosemite:

• Visit Ranger Bob’s Facebook page to see stunning nature photography of Yosemite

• Listen to this NPR story to hear an interview with Bob and his Yosemite sound recordings

Spring has Sprung! Which trees are attracting what birds to your yard?

This time of year, we experience the arrival of spring, the leafing out of our precious trees, and take comfort in the greening of our community and the joy of the songbird.  This benefit of trees – this experience – brings forth pleasurable feelings and emotions, and creates fond memories that are priceless.

Thank you for your responses to our recent post “Planting Trees to Attract Birds.

Let’s take a look at which trees are attracting what birds to your yards.Live-Oak_1-876Sargent-Crabapple_1-821Japanese-Dogwood_1-830

 

Top five responses:

1. Oak (Live Oak and Red Oak)

2. Dogwood

3. Serviceberry

4. Juniper

5. Crabapple and Mulberry

Honorable mention:

holly, American mountainash, apple, aucuba, boxwood, butterfly bush, chokeberry,  cypress, elderberry,  fir, forsythia, hazel, hemlock,   laurel, lilac, maple, Norway spruce, pear, raspberry, saucer magnolia, white pine, and wild cherry.

We also had a plethora of responses regarding the type of birds our members and followers see visiting their yards.

Cardinal photo credit Brian GudzevichChickadee photo credit Eugene BeckesBluebird photo credit Henry T McLin

 

Top five most common birds:

1. Cardinals

2. Chickadees

3. Woodpeckers

4. Bluejays

5. Hummingbirds

Other birds that folks are seeing in their yards are wrens, robins, sparrows, catbirds, owls, crows, warblers, mockingbirds, and bluebirds!

Thanks for sharing with us!

Any other trees or birds you’d like to add to the list?

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

ScotchPine[1]Number One: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

The number one tree on The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees series is the Scots Pine, which is the top selling tree in the country. Scots Pines aren’t actually native to the United States; they were introduced through European settlers and have since been cultivated, especially in the eastern US. Their bright green color, excellent survival rate, and great needle retention make them the most popular Christmas tree on our countdown.  scots-pine1[1]

Scots Pines (also known as Scotch Pine) are a hardy species adaptable to a wide variety of soils. They resist drying, and even when they do dry they refuse to drop their needles. In fact, when kept in water these pines will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Scots Pines grow to more than 60 ft high and 40 ft wide. They are however a slow growing tree, which means it takes 6-8 years to produce a 7 to 8 ft Christmas tree. They naturally grow in an oval shape and are annually sheared to form the Christmas tree figure.

greenscottishfir[1]Scots Pines have high economic value in Europe and throughout Asia because they produce pulpwood —timber used specifically for paper production —poles, and sawlogs used in manufacturing plywood. They’re also popular in reclamation sites because of their easy replanting capabilities, with more than 35 seed varieties commercially recognized.

Interested in buying a Scots Pine? Visit the Arbor Day tree nursery. To learn more about the Scots Pine or any other tree visit our What Tree is That tool.

Take a look at some of the nation’s tallest Christmas trees. Where does your tree rank?

 large

 Missed Christmas tree number two on our countdown? See it here.