Oktoberfest: Raise Your Stein at Arbor Day Farm

Like many other Midwesterners, I have some strong German roots. Do I own a pair of lederhosen? No. But I grew up eating sausage with sauerkraut, helping my grandma make apfel kuchen, and learning German words here and there. And I also happen to love Oktoberfest.

Really, though, who doesn’t? A traditional celebration of beer…complete with tasty food. Yes, please!

Oktoberfest1This Sunday (October 11), we’ll be hosting Oktoberfest in the historic barns at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. It’s your opportunity to taste some authentic German foods courtesy of Chef Thomas, dance to polka music from the Jim Bochnicek Trio, and play horseshoes and other yard games.

As for the beer, there will be plenty of local, domestic, and international options on hand:

  • Lucky Bucket Oktoberfest
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider Amber
  • Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
  • Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
  • Ploughshare Wohlleben Oktoberfest
  • Warsteiner Pilsner
  • Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen

Oktoberfest2The festival will run 2:00–7:00 p.m. on October 11. There’s a $5 cover charge (waived for Otoe County residents), and food and beer tickets will be available for purchase onsite.

So grab your alpine hat and head on over. Prost!

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.

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

Arbor Day Foundation Leads 2nd Annual Alpha Kappa Alpha Training Session

DSC_0073Walking in to the room, anyone would have thought they had been friends for years. There was laughing, joking and a lot of posing for pictures. No one would have guessed they had all met the night before at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb.

In mid-October nine Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members gathered at Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, Neb. to train for their year-long internship with Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA® program. During the course of the weekend they learned more than how to increase tree awareness and sustainability efforts on their campuses, they formed lifelong connections to each other and the environment.

“This opportunity for fellowship with like-minded sisters is great,” Mueni Loko Rudd from Houston-Tillotson University said. “Learning together helps to better prepare us to achieve our goals.”

The Arbor Day Foundation partnered with AKA in 2012. AKA’s mission is “service to all mankind.” Tree Campus USA recognition requires a tree care plan, service-learning projects and Arbor Day observances. By working with Tree Campus USA, AKA members said they work to improve sustainability efforts and make the planet a better place.

“It’s an opportunity for undergraduate members of Alpha Kappa Alpha to participate in our economic sustainability initiatives and economic stewardship,” AKA President Carolyn House Steward said. “And it’s an opportunity to show others the great work that Alpha Kappa Alpha women do.”

The ambassadors came from different regions around the country, each offering a unique perspective on how trees affect their campus. From Alanna Tremble at Wayne State University in Detroit to Tayler Bolton at the University of Oklahoma, to Tori Williams at the University of California – Irvine, trees hold varying significance.

“Being located in the inner-city, trees are important because they make the campus look nice on top of providing clean air,” Tremble said.DSC_0025

Beautification is also important on Williams’ campus. While there is already a park with trees on campus, Williams said she believes there is a need for more trees on campus to distinguish it from other California schools.

“We’re part of the UC (University of California) system, but we have a park, which is something others don’t have,” said Williams. “So having trees shows something different that we offer when people come to visit.”

While beautification holds some significance for Bolton, shade is key on her campus, located in the heat of Oklahoma.

“Trees are so important because they make us want to be on campus,” Bolton said. “They provide shade. When it’s nice outside we’ll have class under trees sometimes.”

At the training in Nebraska City, the women were taken through the Tree Adventure, an interactive experience to learn about trees and their positive effects on the environment, and learned more about different types of trees, their importance in the environment and how to teach others about trees.

This walk through the Tree Adventure trails included using their senses to connect with nature. Lauren Sandoval, Trees Atlanta education coordinator, led the walk. She encouraged the women to stop and feel the bark of trees and listen to the sounds of rustling leaves, singing birds and walnuts falling. They also stopped and tried to sketch what they saw.

“Taking a moment to sketch was something that was very natural,” Selena Gaddy from Georgia Southern University said. “It’s about appreciating the beauty we overlook day to day.”

Many of the ambassadors expressed an interest in bringing a similar experience back to their own campuses to connect students to the nature around them.

The hike concluded with lunch, apple picking and a tree-planting demonstration. For most of the ambassadors this was their first tree planting and offered them an opportunity to learn how to do it properly and share that with their campuses.

These nine ambassadors will take everything they learned in Nebraska City back to their campus and cultivate dedication to trees that will continue past their year-long internship.DSC_0039

“They can make a difference by getting others interested in environmental stewardship,” Stewart said. “I hope that it is going to be a lifelong learning experience for them.”

 

 

Adding Fruit Trees to your Landscape Design

As the Apple Orchard Manager at Arbor Day Farm, I often get questions about how to create a fruit orchard in a home or landscape setting.   There are several items that you should consider to make sure you find a tree that is right for you.

Buy Apple Tree

Determine the Right Fruit Tree for your landscape

Step 1: When choosing a fruit tree in your yard or home, the first consideration is the growing zone in which you live.

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