Apple Harvest 2012: Carrying on the tradition

Apples and apple orchards are a time-honored tradition at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, and the 2012 apple harvest carries on that heritage.

Bushels and boxes of apples, circa 1930, from the Joy Morton Orchard Company.

Apple trees have thrived here since 1855, when J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline, moved to Nebraska City from Michigan, and planted several varieties of apple trees on their homestead, the property now known as Arbor Day Farm.In the 1920s, J. Sterling and Caroline’s son, Joy – founder of the Morton Salt Company – partnered with Grove Porter and formed the Joy Morton Orchard Company on this land, one of many local orchards supplying a wide selection of apples for the southeast Nebraska region.

Today, the orchards at Arbor Day Farm are still going strong, even with the very dry year that 2012 has turned out to be. As is typical in drought years, the apples are smaller in size this year but the quantity of apples in the orchard remains relatively consistent with recent harvests.

U-Pick and Pre-Picked Apples

From now through late October, 14 varieties of traditional apples will be available here. Many people enjoy the “u-pick” orchards, where one can wander through the apple trees and hand-pick for themselves any combination of varieties in five- or ten-pound bags, or half- or full-bushel. Improved orchard signage at Arbor Day Farm will help people find just the apples they’re looking for. Free hayrack rides to the orchard are available for the fall season on Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5pm.

For those who love apples but don’t necessarily wish to pick their own, the Apple House Market is a one-stop shop for pre-picked apples. A team of orchard workers picks apples daily in the orchard, bringing their harvest into the market for purchase. Five- and ten-pound bags, half- and full-bushel quantities are ready to go for your convenience.

The Preservation Orchard

It’s impossible to discuss apples and apple traditions without noting the Preservation Orchard at Arbor Day Farm.

This collection of heirloom-variety apple trees was originally planted in the late 1980s and today consists of 90 rare, antique apple varieties, some dating back to the 1500s and originating in Rome, France, Ireland, Turkey and beyond.

Many varieties of preservation apples are not necessarily “pretty” – many have russeting (discoloration of the skin), odd shapes, or irregular sizes. But just as one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, one also shouldn’t judge a vintage apple by its outward appearance. Certain varieties of these heirloom apples have exceptional flavor and are prized for baking.

For the 2012 apple harvest season, visitors to Arbor Day Farm will have the opportunity to purchase these heirloom apples in five-pound bags at the Apple House Market. Quantities are limited and selection will vary as different varieties are ready for harvest.

We look forward to sharing the apple tradition with you this fall at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.

Amy Stouffer lends a hand for all-things-communication at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. Her favorite tree is the ginkgo. This piece was cross-posted on the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

Foundation and Texas partners launch campaign to restore Lost Pines Forest destroyed in Bastrop fire

Earlier this morning, we joined key Texas partners in launching the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign, a multi-year public-private partnership to raise money to plant more than 4 million trees on public and private land.

Dan Lambe, the Foundation’s vice president of programs, attended and spoke at today’s event in Bastrop State Park, the nucleus of the September 2011 fire that destroyed more homes than any other in state history and raged through 95 percent of the park’s 6,600 acres.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M Forest Service are serving as on-the-ground partners in the five-year replanting effort. Both were crucial to making today’s launch happen.

The Lost Pines ecosystem includes more than 75,000 acres of loblolly pines scattered across sections of five Texas counties. It is a precious natural resource for Texans and the state’s visitors, and we’re honored to be a part of restoring it.

The Foundation is taking the lead on fundraising for what is expected to be a $4 million effort. So far, we have secured commitments from Mary Kay, Inc., FedEx, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Nokia and Apache Corporation, and we’re looking forward to adding even more corporate sponsors to the list.

We still need you help to restore the Lost Pines forest to pre-disaster condition. You can donate today at arborday.org/texas.

Carter Smith,Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, summed up the need well when he said “no one entity has the resources to do it all alone, but we’re fortunate that people care deeply about natural treasures like the Lost Pines and Bastrop State Park.”

He added: “Bringing back the trees is an essential step to restore the region’s ecological lifeblood. If we each donate a little, together we can do a great deal.”

Learn more about the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign and make a donation today.

UPDATE: Here is the Foundation’s Dan Lambe (far right) watering longleaf loblolly seedling with other speakers, dignitaries and corporate sponsors in Bastrop State Park this morning. Additional photos are available from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Left to right: Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, Texas State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, Carter Smith (Texas Parks and Wildlife), Dan Lambe

Long Beach, California, may include urban trees in cap-and-trade program

Long Beach, the seventh largest city in California, is a considering seeking carbon credits for the greenhouse gas offsetting power of its trees as part of the state’s new cap-and-trade program.

If successful, Long Beach officials would use the “carbon credits” to fund continued maintenance and care for the city’s existing trees, a major boost during a time of tight budgets. The Press-Telegram, a local newspaper, has reported that Long Beach faces a $17.2 million deficit and faces potential cuts to its tree care program of more than $200,000.

According to Reuters Point Carbon:

Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said Tuesday she will ask the city’s office of sustainability to review her proposal to enroll its urban forest as an offset project that can supply credits to California’s carbon market.

Planting and maintaining forests in urban areas is one of four ways emitters can offset their greenhouse gas output, according to California’s cap-and-trade regulations.

It is exciting to see communities find innovative ways to preserve their urban forests and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The full article is available here. Reuters notes that Santa Monica, a beachfront community also located in Southern California, has already made a similar request.

Photo Credit: City-Data

Portland’s growing tree canopy provides many benefits

Photo Credit: OHS.org

Once nicknamed “Stumptown” for the massive clearing of trees during a phenomenal period of growth in the 1800s, Portland now proudly protects, encourages and monitors the growth of its expansive tree canopy and is dubbed a Tree City USA community.

In collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, the Tree City USA program “provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs” across the nation.

Portland has held the title of Tree City USA almost since the Arbor Day Foundation began the program in 1976.  The benefits of Portland’s dedication to being a Tree City USA for the past 35 years permeate the entire city.

According to a recent news article in the Oregonian, “an aerial imagery study released by the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation shows that the city’s tree canopy has grown by 2.6 percent over the past 10 years, and now covers nearly 30 percent of the city.”

Photo Credit: ColumbiaRiverImages.com

The Arbor Day Foundation has compiled information from various sources regarding the many benefits urban trees provide environmentally, economically, and socially for millions of Americans.

The Tree Canada Foundation asserts that “one tree provides oxygen for up to four people in one day.”

According to the Oregonian, “Portland has approximately 240,000 street trees, and 1.2 million trees throughout Portland’s parks.”

The U.S. Forest Service has determined that urban trees in the Chicago area filter an estimated “6,000 tons of air pollutants each year, providing cleansing valued at $9.2 million.”

And, according to a 2009 Parks Bureau study, the ecological benefits of Portland’s street and park trees are valued at $27 million annually.

Photo Credit: Oregonian

Other benefits of urban trees include better air, soil, and water quality, lower occurrences of asthma and stress among children, increased carbon sequestration, and reduced energy use for heating and cooling.  In fact, the International Society of Arboriculture has revealed that the shade and shelter provided by trees, annually reduces heating and cooling costs in the United States by $2.1 billion.

Mark Ross, Parks Bureau spokesman, states that Portland’s next goal will be to achieve a “33 percent urban tree canopy by 2030.”

Portland residents will surely enjoy and appreciate the many benefits a robust urban forest reaps for years to come.

Volunteers and local workers make a difference as drought threatens Joplin’s newly planted trees

Every year, natural disasters strike communities often resulting in a dramatic loss of trees that subsequently weakens the community’s environmental sustainability, economy, and sense of place.

Photo Credit: NPR.org

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Disaster Recovery Campaign is a structured response to the destruction caused by disasters in communities across the nation.   By collaborating and organizing with key state and local partners, the Arbor Day Foundation “facilitates the distribution of trees to citizens in communities in need.”

After the severe damage caused by the EF5 tornado that tore through Joplin in May 2011, a variety of organizations banded together to plant nearly 7,000 new trees in the devastated city.

Through a joint initiative with the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, the Arbor Day Foundation developed the Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign.  This campaign distributed 12,000 trees to residents in four Joplin-area locations.

Foundation officials have described the Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign as an effort to restore Joplin’s precious and beautiful tree canopy to what it was before the May tornado.

An NPR news article details that, “sturdy varieties such as oak, sycamore and redbud — trees that can withstand strong winds when they’re taller” have been planted throughout Joplin.

In spite of all the progress made through the combined efforts of local and national supporters, Joplin’s young, newly planted trees are now struggling to survive a different environmental threat: drought.

Tom Meyer, manager of Carson Nurseries in Springfield, explains that young “trees are especially vulnerable to the drought.”

According to Meyer:

Freshly planted trees are real reliant on human beings taking care of them.  They need to water right at the root base, and there’s very little root structure beyond what was just planted. They can’t bring in residual water from farther out.

Fortunately, students on mission trips, volunteers and other workers from around the Joplin area have formed “bucket brigades,” toting heavy, five gallon buckets of water in the searing heat to around 562 young trees planted in Joplin parks.

Photo Credit: Joplin Globe

Thanks to these efforts and the perseverance and dedication to the restoration of Joplin, Ric Mayer, Joplin’s tree coordinator, estimates that presently, less than three percent of the newly planted trees will not survive.

The battle for the trees’ survival is not yet over.  Mayer believes that if the volunteers keep at it, there is hope for saving most of the trees in Joplin parks, but volunteers tend to be in short supply through August and September.

Any volunteers who want to water the trees in Joplin’s parks are welcome.  Homeowners are advised to not neglect their newly planted trees as well.

If you would like to donate to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign and help Joplin in its efforts to restore and maintain its tree canopy, please click here.

The following “before and after” photos portray the destruction caused by the May 2011 EF5 tornado that went through Joplin.

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Heat and drought taking a toll on trees in Nebraska, other states

Heat and drought have made this summer one of the toughest in memory for urban trees, and the evidence is especially visible here in Nebraska, home of the original Arbor Day.

According to the Nebraska Forest Service, long dry-spells can be especially damaging, even for mature trees that have survived harsh conditions in the past.

The Grand Island Independent reported on the problem and what Nebraskans can do to alleviate the strain earlier this week. Of course, these same principles apply to struggling trees throughout the country.

Woody plants across the state are also suffering from continued heat and drought. Nebraskans should pay particular attention to trees and shrubs and thoroughly water them if they begin to show signs of leaf wilt, discoloration or drying, especially at leaf edges, said Amy Seiler of the Nebraska Forest Service.

“A dry winter, minimal spring rains, record high temperatures and low summer precipitation have put extreme stress on trees this summer,” Seiler said

The uptick is temperature also makes certain trees more susceptible to infestation and disease, both as a result of the tree’s weakened state and the ability of more pests to survive warmer winters. The emerald ash borer, one of the worst pests confronting urban trees, is already getting closer to the Nebraska border.

Fortunately, with the right attention and watering, many endangered trees can be saved.

The Foundation has a number of resources on tree planting and care. They can be accessed here.