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.

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

Trees, Water and Sustainability

loch katrine trossachs national park

Loch Katrine— nestled on The Trossachs National Park in Scotland— depends on surrounding trees for Glasgow’s clean water supply.

When we think of forests, we think of trees, the wonders of nature, of sheer beauty, and clean, fresh air. We often don’t think about the water we drink.

We should.

More than 180 million Americans, 56 percent of the U.S. population, have abundant, healthy drinking water thanks to forests.

Forests help snow melt and rain water soak into the soil to replenish rivers and streams during dry times. Trees stop silt from eroding into our waterways. They serve as natural filters to clean sparkling mountain streams, healthy lakes and reservoirs, and our nation’s vast web of rivers.

Why is that important to us? As U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “While most Americans live in urban areas, most of us depend on rural lands, particularly forest lands, for clean water and a healthy climate.”

One example is New York City. In the late 1990s, city leaders balked at a $6 billion water treatment system and instead opted for natural forest management to clean the water it receives from the Catskill/Delaware watershed in upstate New York. The focus is on creating conservation easements along streams and reservoirs, and protecting forest lands to keep sediment and runoff from entering the water supply. The watershed provides New Yorkers with more than 1 billion gallons each day of some of the cleanest, healthiest drinking water in the world.

Millions of Californians rely on crystal-clear water flowing from the San Bernardino National Forest and other California forests to quench their thirst.

In Colorado, the South Platte watershed, which rises high in the Pike National Forest, supplies Denver with drinking water.

In Scotland, trees in The Trossachs National Park protect nearby Loch Katrine, which provides Glasgow its water supply. These are just a few examples of how our dependence on clean water also depends on healthy forests.

One way of keeping our forests healthy is to plant trees.

Klamath National Forest-California – After a fire, tree-planting crews are often in a race against time to plant new native trees.

The need to replant our forests is vitally important because of damage from insects, disease and unprecedented wildfires. Every year, new areas in critical need of replanting are identified – places where fires burn so hot that the seeds of future forests are destroyed.While we don’t know where the critical needs will be 10 years from now, or 40 years from now, we do know that our forests will continue to need our help, and that trees will be planted wherever they will best serve people, our environment, and water resources for generations to come.

There is no substitute for clean water. Water is a vital resource that we rely on every day. We can’t create something else to take its place.

But we can plant trees.

The next time you turn on the tap, remember the role trees play in keeping our drinking water clean and safe. And when we next think of forests, we’ll think of majestic beauty, clean air, habitat for wildlife…and healthy, abundant water for this and future generations.


Trees Tame Stormwater

Rain refreshes the land and nourishes the green landscape, and all things that grow suffer when we lack rainfall, as areas that are currently experiencing or have just recently experienced drought can attest. But when that long-awaited rain does pour down, particularly when it’s not a gentle sprinkle, but a torrent of water, the benefits may not always be as great.

runoff_diagram[1]Wait–rain is rain, right? Shouldn’t it help equally wherever it falls?

Well, in areas where houses, stores, schools, roads and parking lots spread, the natural tree cover is lost, and so too is the absorbing effect of vegetation and soil. Without the benefit of trees and vegetated infrastructure, welcome rain becomes costly stormwater runoff—rushing through gutters and pipes following a storm, as oils, heavy metal particles and other harmful substances are washed into rivers and lakes. Fish and wildlife suffer, drinking water becomes expensive or impossible to reclaim, property values are reduced, and our living environment is degraded.

Luckily, something can be done to make the most of the precious rainfall, helping to maximize its benefits to all: planting trees and preserving existing trees.

Leaves and bark of a tree retain a huge amount of water, allowing some of it to evaporate and some to more slowly reach the ground. How exactly do they do it? Several ways:stormwater-runoff_fazio[1]

-Intercept falling rain and hold a portion of it on the leaves and bark. Part of this intercepted water will evaporate and part will be gradually released into the soil below.

-At the surface of the soil, fallen leaves help form a spongy layer that moderates soil temperature, helps retain moisture, and harbors organisms that break down organic matter and recycle elements for use in plant growth. This important layer also allows rain water to percolate into the soil rather than rushing off carrying with it oil, metal particles and other pollutants.

-Below ground, roots hold the soil in place and absorb water that will eventually be released into the atmosphere by transpiration.

-Through the collective action of leaves and the anchoring and absorbing effects of roots, trees also contribute to soil stabilization, cleaner water and the recharge of groundwater that serves as the drinking supply for more than half the nation’s population.

few treesDepending on size and species, a single tree may store 100 gallons of water or more, at least until it reaches saturation after about one to two inches of rainfall. When multiplied by the number of trees in a community, this interception and redistribution can be significant. It is estimated that the urban forest can reduce annual runoff by 2-7%. This reduction can be converted into dollar savings due to the use of smaller drainage and artificial retention systems. When trees are combined with other natural landscaping, studies have shown that storm runoff can be reduced as much as 65 percent in residential areas. In fact, sometimes even 100 percent of rainfall can be retained on site.

abundant treesCheck out the interactive graphic on that shows the effects of few trees, then abundant trees on city stormwater and runoff:

The role of trees in stormwater retention and its resulting benefits to public health and municipal budgets deserves greater appreciation. It is one reason of many why the planting and care of trees in our communities is of critical importance.

Trees are useful and valuable components of city stormwater infrastructure and provide measurable reductions in runoff volume and pollutant loads. Municipalities should explore opportunities to expand tree planting programs and incorporate trees into engineered stormwater systems. Trees are not just landscaping placed on top of city infrastructure, they are city infrastructure. –Shirley Trier, Davey Resource Group

Adapted from Tree City Bulletin #55: How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff by Dr. James R. Fazio


Tree City Bulletin #55: How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff

Arbor Day Foundation: How Trees Tame Stormwater

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day

The simple act of planting a tree will have a positive impact for generations to come. In the words of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, “Other holidays repose upon the past, Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Here are 10 ideas of how you can celebrate Arbor Day:

17_Fruit_saplings[1]Have a game night with tree trivia, winner gets a tree seedling

Hold a picnic in a park, or take a nature hike

Learn your state tree

Invite friends over for a movie nightIMG_4700[1] and watch a film that features trees with pumpkin spice cupcakes (or some spice derived from trees)

Send an Arbor Day e-card to friends & family

Bake an Arbor Day inspired dish (or whole meal) using spices and other ingredients produced entirely by trees

9512239-large[1]Sign up to a neighborhood recycling program or find a recycling center and pledge to recycle paper and cardboard

Upcycle your tree clippings, there are other ways to use them in addition to your garden

Collect leaves, put tempera paint on DSC_7859[1]them and make leaf prints

Buy a What Tree Is That pocket field guide and see how many trees you can identify in your neighborhood

California Celebrates Arbor Week in March

arbor-logo-lg[1]While the National Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region.

California doesn’t only celebrate Arbor Day; the state has a whole week dedicated to educating Californians on the value trees provide to healthy cities. In 2011 the California State Assembly and Senate approved Resolution ACR 10, a measure that recognized how vital trees are to the state, and declaring the establishment of Arbor Week. Arbor Week—celebrated March 7 to March 14—encourages residents to observe the week with tree planting activities and programs.

One of the various benefits of the state celebrating Arbor Week is that it allows like-minded organizations the opportunity to work together and organize events on a larger scale.  California is home to 143 certified Tree City USA communities, 10 Tree Line USA Utilities, and four Tree Campus USA’s. We wish we could recognize each celebration. Below are highlights of a few of the Arbor Day events that took place last

Sacramento, designated a Tree City USA for 37 years and Growth Award recipient 10 years, was listed as one of the 10 Best Cities for Urban Forests.  The city launched a 30K Tree campaign in 2012—an effort to plant 30,000 trees in one year throughout the Sacramento region. During a 20-year period, 30,000 trees could collect 8.5 million tons of carbon, capture 11 million gallons of storm water, and remove 110,000 pounds of pollutants from the air.

To kick off Arbor Week and celebrate the completion of the 30K campaign, the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Joint Venture joined the mayor in a ceremonial tree planting at Pacific Elementary School. Later in the week locals were invited to McKinley Park for a community picnic. The celebration included tree tours, a chance to make ‘I Love Trees’ buttons, bead bracelet making, and music.

Ssan jose cali releafan Jose—a Tree City USA for 31 years—worked with local non-profit California ReLeaf to plant trees in schools and neighborhoods across the city. Additionally, seniors and disabled residents were given trees to plant in their yards and park strips and had help planting them from Our City Forest—a local non-profit involved in engaging the community in the maintenance of the urban ecosystem.

Cupertino held a combined Earth Day/Arbor Day festival that included 100 partners comprised of nonprofit organizations and businesses. Booths offered tips, demonstrations, and activities centered on creating a sustainable lifestyle. It was estimated that 5,000 to 7,500 community members attended the event.

Can you imagine your city without trees? Neither can we! How are you involved in maintaining your community’s tree canopy?

The Academy Awards—Trees in Film Part II

This weekend Hollywood will honor the achievements of actors, directors, and many others involved in creating motion pictures. Last week we posted The Academy Awards—Trees in Film and asked what other movies you could think of with memorable trees. We have our follow-up list inspired from your comments just in time for the awards.

To Kill a Mockingbird

mockThe emotional drama won three Oscars out of its eight nominations. Based on the 1961 novel by Harper Lee, the film tells the story of a lawyer living in an Alabama town in the 1930s who agrees to defend a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Depicted in the film is an Oak tree that two of the story’s characters, Jem and Scout, continually visit to find hidden treasures.

It’s a Wonderful Life

115862545.jpgNominated for six Oscars, this 1946 comedy-drama invites viewers on a journey with George Bailey, a distraught man on the verge of suicide who’s dedicated his whole life to Bedford Falls, his home.  Just as he’s ready to take his life an angel appears, ready to help George through his trialing time. A key scene in the movie shows George crashing his car into a tree during a snow storm.

Forest Gump

b5cc94eef5585b072cf53469[1]Having taken home six Oscars, Forrest Gump tells the story of a mentally challenged man’s journey through life. As fate would have it, Forrest is a part of important historical events and meets public figures, however that doesn’t faze Forrest because the only thing on his mind is his childhood sweetheart, Jenny Curran. Viewers grow up with Forrest as the film progresses, but one thing that stays constant in his life is the tree to which Forrest and Jenny continually return. The Southern Oak tree in the film is located in South Carolina and has served as a tourist attraction for fans.



New Mexico Celebrates Arbor Day in March

ArborWhile the National Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region.

New Mexico celebrates Arbor Day the second Friday of March. Home to 12 certified Tree City USA communities, we take a look back at how a few of those cities observed the tradition.

Albuquerque—a Tree City USA community for 15 years—celebrated Arbor Day with a traditional tree planting. The city of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation partnered up with Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico State Urban Forestry, Kellyphoto3[1]and New Mexico Think Trees to plant trees at two local parks near schools. Students experienced hands-on participation in the tree plantings.

In addition to the city’s celebration, Tree New Mexico held a presentation at a Bernalillo County Open Space lead by certified arborists who talked about best practices in caring for trees. A local forester discussed the condition of New Mexico’s forests in light of changing climate and drought conditions. Participants received a New Mexico Olive Tree at the conclusion of the presentation.

The City of Santa Fe and Railyard Stewards—a local conservation organization that helps the city maintain its largest park—held a tree planting ceremony following the ribbon cutting and community picnic for the opening of the Los Pinos Bridge/Ashbaugh Park. Santa Fe has been designated a Tree City USA community for five years, and Growth Award recipient for two years.

In addition to the tree planting, the city gave away tree saplings and held family-friendly activities consisting of live music from a marimba band, ice cream, and pastries. The Santa Fe Disc Golf group held demonstrations and offered free classes to attendees.

c2bf20bcc12e505eb082fbf0fc83b62c[1]Roswell celebrated Arbor Day at the Spring River Park & Zoo with a tree planting and tree giveaway. A tree was planted in honor of PGA professional Saul Sanchez who was shot and killed after interrupting a burglary.

Following the tree planting city park staff gave demonstrations on proper tree pruning and climbing. Those who attended the Arbor Day celebration not only got to select two trees to take home with them but also had the opportunity to pose for pictures with Smokey Bear. Roswell, the state’s longest recognized Tree City USA has received the designation for 24 years and the Growth Award for 11.

Your questions about fall planting answered!

 Is it better to plant in spring or fall?

Both seasons can be effective times to plant your trees and shrubs. A great benefit of planting treeplanting in the fall is that tree roots remain active throughout the winter, taking advantage of moisture from rain or snow. Trees planted during this season get a nice head start on establishing themselves in the spring through vigorous root elongation and a flush of twig growth. Keep in mind that some plants, such as blueberries, blackberries and grapes, have the best chance of growing up strong and healthy when planted in the spring.

What are some tips for planting in the fall?  

  • If you cannot plant immediately due to adverse weather conditions, you may store your trees for up to 5 days. If storing your trees for longer than 5 days please follow the instructions for Heeling in Your Trees.
  • Avoid planting your trees in pots, if possible.
  • When you plant in the fall, be sure to mulch with wood chips, straw or other material to reduce alternate freezing and thawing that can result in “frost heaving.”
  • Avoid using fertilizer, potting soil or root starter, as they may be detrimental to the health of your new trees.

I’m ordering natural root trees…are they watering image croppedok to plant this late in the season?

Planting trees in late fall is well worth some cold hands! To be sure that your trees arrive in a strong and healthy condition, nurseries will usually ship “natural root” or “bare root” stock only when it is dormant in the fall season. Trees will only go dormant after a few hard frosts, so it’s necessary to wait until then to be able to ship them safely.

But it’s cold! Are the trees able to survive the weather?

As long as a spade can be inserted into the ground, it is okay to plant the trees. In other words, you may plant your trees until the ground is completely frozen solid—so until you can safely ice skate or ice fish on your local lakes or ponds, planting your dormant trees is just fine.

What can I do to prepare for my trees’ arrival?

  • Pre-dig your holes now, so when your trees do arrive you are prepared to immediately get them in the ground.
  • Store the dirt you removed from the hole in a garage or tool shed where it will not get as cold. Left outside, it may harden and prove more difficult to work with once the time comes to plant.
  • mulchPre-purchase mulch, as some stores may not have as large of a mulch supply in their inventories as the season progresses—you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of mulch on hand for your newly planted trees once they arrive!

Happy planting!

(Note: If you live in Hardiness Zone 6, you may still order trees from the Arbor Day Tree Nursery until November 19. If you live in Zone 7, 8, or 9 you may order until November 26 and still receive your order this shipping season. Hardiness Zones 0-5 are currently being shipped.)