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.

National NeighborWoods Month

neighborwoods-full-color[1]Did you know that next month marks National NeighborWoods Month? That’s right, kicking off on the first of October is an annual month-long campaign to plant and care for community trees. What makes this campaign even more exciting is the network of communities across the country that participate in the celebration.

NeighborWoods month is organized by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) network of local nonprofit organizations throughout the country. Every October tens of thousands of volunteers join together with the shared cause of planting and caring for community trees.

This year marks the 11th year of celebrating NeighborWoods month! Together, Alliance for Community Trees organizations have planted and cared for more than 15 million trees with help from more than 5 million volunteers. It’s incredible what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal.

Although everyday should be a celebration of green communities, committing a whole month to the cause raises the discussion and action in local communities by emphasizing that tree canopy protection is a national concern, not just local. There are numerous benefits to participating in NeighborWoods month.

It adds validity and weight to collective efforts, provides an opportunity to both use and acknowledge volunteers, inspires businesses and local government support and can enhance a community’s appearance and reputation. Not to mention the economic, environmental and health benefits communities reap when they have a healthy community forest.

Visit to learn more about local NeighborWoods events in your community.

Early Harvest Apple: Turning a New Leaf

(Malus X Domestica)

The turn of a new season brings new fall favorites with it like crackling candles and sweet ciders, and let’s not forget tart, juicy apples like the early harvest apple.

Early-Harvest-AppleAs the name suggests this high-yielding apple tree is among the first to be ready for harvest. These apples are ready to be picked as early as July in some locations, with the latest harvest in September. What’s more exciting is the number of recipes you can get out of your apples. Speaking of recipes, check out From the Lied Lodge Cookbook: Apple Pie Egg Rolls for a delicious jumpstart!

Here are a few things to note if you don’t have an apple tree but want to reap the benefits down the road.

Environmental Factors

  • Grows well in moist, well-drained soil, it is not drought tolerant. (Hardiness zones 3-8).
  • Fast growing tree, growing more than 2 feet a year and reaching 20-25 feet at maturity.
  • Prefers full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms white/pinkish flowers early to midseason.
  • Is available in standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf sizes. Standard size bears fruit in 6-10 years.
  • Needs a second tree to cross-pollinate with to produce apples. Can be pollinated with Lodi, red Jonathan, red delicious or a variety from a different apple family.

Do you have an awesome apple recipe? We’d love to hear it!

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

Restoring Hope to Disaster-Stricken Communities

DSC_0061 (3)How would your community work toward restoring the local ecosystem following a natural disaster? The terrible wildfires in the western part of the United States are the latest example of why this question remains top-of-mind for community leaders. Communities continue to face devastating loss at the hands of wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and many other natural disasters.

The Community Tree Recovery Program was set up to play an important role in the process of helping communities rebuild following natural disasters. We are currently working on recovery projects in twelve different states. One of these projects is in need of immediate assistance because of timeliness and severity.

The news has been filled with reports of the many uncontained wildfires out west. And with good reason, many of these fires are the worst in decades. Washington is experiencing the worst wildfire in state history, the Okanogan Complex Fire. This comes on the heels of the  Carlton Complex Fire – the previous worst wildfire in state historywhich happened just last year. 

As the courageous firefighters battling these blazes and work to contain them, we need to begin the planning process for helping communities recover. Humanitarian needs will be priority one. But once those needs have been met, we will begin the process of distributing trees to organizations and residents in these areas. Help these communities replant trees lost to wildfire.

Chinese Pistache: There’s More Than Meets the Eye

(Pistacia chinensis)

112_lg_3[1]Sometimes nicknamed the ‘ugly duckling’ in the tree world, the Chinese pistache is often snubbed because of its unattractive and misshapen early stages. Although born into rough beginnings, the tree develops into an impressive specimen. It’s a hardy tree and commonly used in dry landscapes.

As the name predicts, the Chinese pistache is related to the pistachio tree, although it does not produce any nuts. Not only is this tree heat and drought-tolerant, but it is also winter hardy AND pest and fire resistant. Talk about resilience! Here are a few things to note if you’re looking to add one to your yard.

112_lg_2[1]Environmental Factors

  • Grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy, silty loam, well-drained and clay soils (hardiness zones 6-9).
  • Grows 1-2 feet a year, reaching 25-35 feet at maturity.
  • Prefers full sun, at least 6 hours of direct unfiltered sunlight a day

Physical Attributes

  • Produces panicles of greenish flowers in April & May.
  • Withstands heat quite well and tolerates urban conditions.
  • Provides vibrant fall foliage with shades of orange and red.

Do you have a Chinese pistache? Share a picture!

Our Hardiness Zone Map Gets a Refresh

The Arbor Day Foundation distributes millions of trees every year, so it’s important that we have an accurate hardiness zone map. This map separates the country into ten different temperature zones to help people select the right trees to plant where they live. Knowing this information helps us—and you—ensure the trees you receive have the best chance of thriving. It’s one of the important tools in any tree planter’s arsenal.

Hardiness-Zone-MapBecause of this, we gave ours an update. Take a moment to check out the Arbor Day Foundation’s new 2015 Hardiness Zone Map, based upon data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental United States.

We like to revise the map every 10 years or so to keep up with any temperature shifts that may have occurred. While not many areas changed with this update, people living in the  northeast or along the Ohio River Valley may be in a new zone.

Not sure what hardiness zone you’re in? We have a simple hardiness zone lookup tool to help you figure it out.

Sourwood: A Sweet Surprise

(Oxydendrum arboretum)

What if there were a tree with scented flowers and tart leaves that shaded you from the sun’s heat in the summer and amused you with vibrant foliage in the fall, would you be interested? The sourwood tree does just that. This tree is exclusive to North America and isn’t found on other continents unless planted there. Named after the tangy flavor of its leaves, the sourwood tree is full of wonder. Sourwood blossom

Mountain climbers and hikers quench their thirst by making tea with sourwood leaves, and pioneers used the sap in a mixture for treating fevers. Agonizing from mouth pain? Early settlers chewed the bark as relief from mouth ulcers. Additionally, bees make honey from the nectar of sourwood flowers—rumor has it sourwood honey is among the best quality. Aside from the natural remedies sourwood boasts, this tree is a natural beauty. Check out a few of these tree care tips if you’re considering adding a sourwood for your yard.

Environmental Factors

  • Grows 1-2 feet a year, reaching 25-30 feet at maturity.
  • Although it is native to the south, it will grow in a variety of hardiness zones (5-9).
  • Prefers normal moisture but has some drought tolerance. Grows in acidic, loamy, moist, well-drained and clay soils. Avoid alkaline or compacted soils.
  • Does best in full sun, getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day, but will tolerate partial shade.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms fragrant, white flowers in late summer (June to early July) that resemble lilies-of-the-valley.
  • Can live up to 200 years if planted at the right site.
  • Bees produce high quality honey from the blossoms of the tree that is said to have a caramel or buttery flavor.
  • Offers vibrant fall color with leaves turning crimson, purplish-red and sometimes yellow. The numerous uses that stem from the sourwood give this tree some merit. Its shorter height make it a great contender to plant in your yard, or in front of a backdrop of taller trees.

Do you have a sourwood? Share a picture below!

August is Tree Check Month: Are Your Trees Safe?

In case you haven’t heard, August is Tree Check Month and taking a few minutes from your day to examine your trees for pest threats could save you some grim damage down the road. August is a time of peak emergence for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) who earned a reputation for threatening recreational areas, forests and suburban shade trees. If ALB were to become widely established in the U.S., it would have a severe impact on the timber, maple syrup, tree nursery and tourism industries and would take decades to recover.


Spot the Signs

Besides seeing the beetle itself there are distinctive signs to look for while examining your trees.

  • Round Exit Holes– adult beetles chew their way out of the tree, leaving one-quarter inch exit holes.
  • Oval or round-shaped egg sites- female beetles chew up to 90 oval depressions, called oviposition sites, or egg sites, into the bark of the host tree, and then lay a single egg beneath the bark resembling a wound on the tree.
  • Accumulation of frass- As the larvae feed they leave a sawdust-like excrement on the ground or branches.
  • Weeping sap- Tree sap may be seen from the wounds or egg sites left by the beetle.
  • Tunneling- Larva tunnel through the layers of the tree.
  • Pupal chambers- beetle larvae inside the tree will develop (pupate) in a chamber or area in the tree, turning into adult.
  • Unreasonable yellowing or dropping of leaves- If you see leaves turning colors sooner than they should be, or broken, dead, or dying branches, this can be a sign that something is wrong.

Trees at risk

Read up on last year’s blog post August is Tree Check Month: Is your tree safe from Asian Long-horned Beetle? to learn more about ALB. ALB isn’t the only pest you should watch out for, check out Six Pests You Should Know About to stay proactive in your tree’s health.

Report It

If you think you’ve spotted signs of damage from ALB contact your state ALB eradication program office or plant health director’s office.

Vine Cutting at Lied Lodge & Conference Center

August 13th was a monumental day for the Arbor Day Foundation.LLCC_Vine Cutters 1 Nearly a year of top-to-bottom renovation came to an inspiring crescendo at the Vine-Cutting Ceremony for Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse and U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry were in attendance, along with many of the partners who were so instrumental in making this $9 million renewal a reality. It was a time to celebrate not only our accomplishments but also the bright future ahead.

A special thank you goes out to all of our partners: Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Elements HospitDSC_9941ality, Classic Painting & Decorating, Inc., Pella Windows & Doors, Peter Kiewit Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and Nebraska Forest Service, among many others in attendance.

In addition to our partners, we’d also like to recognize the hundreds of Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm team members who worked tirelessly throughout the past months and took on additional tasks and extraordinary efforts above and beyond their usual responsibilities. These team members are the true definition of dedication and serve as an inspiration to us all.

If you haven’t already, check out the photo gallery to see the complete renovation. Better yet, come see it for yourself!