Tag Archives: newtown pippin

Kids in New York Apple Country!

20 Oct

Despite regional flood damage from Hurricane Irene, New York apple country is thriving and our charming villages are greatly recovered. 

I was thrilled to take 20 kids from Hour Children apple picking at Wilklow Orchards, in an historic area of the Hudson Valley under two hours north of New York City. Thanks to a sponsorship from super-chic Z Hotel in NYC and the orchard’s discount, the kids enjoyed a hay ride, hay jump, a greenhouse filled with crafts and inflated bouncy play rooms, farm fresh snacks and carried home bags of apples that they picked themselves! Wilklow is not only kid friendly, but welcomes leashed dogs too!

The time is still right to pick apples in New York State, our nation’s second largest grower of this more beloved fruit. Click here to learn where to come pick your own apples!  And every orchard is surrounded by other delightful attractions.

You can skip the crowds by visiting a farm on a weekday. Wilklow Orchards, for example, is open for picking from Labor day weekend to Halloween, October 31st, 9-5 daily. You’ll find a great assortment of apples, including Macintosh, Gala, Cortland, Jonamac, Empire, Jonagold, Mutsu, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome. I saved room in my bag for  gourmet Winesap! For an authentic taste of New York heritage, seek out the Northern Spy. Chefs love this crisp and tasty apple with an uber-cool name and you will too. It originated in New York more than two hundred years ago.

Many orchards will supply you with a pre-priced bag to fill with apples and a “picker pole” to reach high branches, but most trees are grafted to dwarf rootstock. Alexander the Great, who was a wee bit on the short side, is credited with introducing this innovation to Europe from Turkey and Central Asia.

Apples love slopes because water drains well of them. I’ve been planting apple trees on berms in New York City through the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration. Though in Highland, NY, Wilklow Orchards gave me a little hint of what it might be like to visit the ancestral apple forest, which still grows in the lower Tian Shan (“cellestial” or “heavenly”) mountain range of Kazakhstan. At Wilklow Orchards, two apple rich slopes meet in a quiet and clear valley stream.

Running down into the fruitful valley of Wilklow Orchards. (Photo by Erik Baard)

Winesaps and other apple trees hugged the clear valley stream bisecting Wilklow Orchards. (Photo by Erik Baard)

Jonagold, which has deep New York ancestry, and Golden Delicious were hits with the kids. (Photo by Erik Baard)

Even very young trees were in full fruit. (Photo by Erik Baard)

One of the funnier moments in our day was when I deduced the source of the kids’ shared wave of concern that the orchard might be full of snakes. It turns out they associated snakes with fruit trees from the story of the Garden of Eden. Imagine that each of of the hundreds of fruit trees before them might be home to its own snake and you’ll understand the dark anxiety that manifested itself on a bright day. A few minutes of explanation and the kids were raring to get back to apple picking!  🙂

Fresh from the tree! Hour Children kids learned about real food and ecology. (Photo by Erik Baard)

The start of a balanced diet. (Photo by Erik Baard)

The kids made a pact to bring snacks and apples for others in their families and at Hour Children to share, and to each contribute an apple for making apple sauce. Their yield was a bit dented, however, when they met some very friendly, curious and hungry goats! If goats are anything like sheep, however, at least the kids will be fondly remembered.

Some apples never made it past the goats. (Photo by Erik Baard)

Next the kids burned off some apple energy by romping in the activity greenhouse, which features carnival “bounce rooms” and in the hay jump. The hay jump’s surrounded by pumpkins, inspiring a yearning to see pumpkin patches! The farm’s hay ride furthered their explorations.

The hay jump! A frame, a mattress and hay = FUN. (Photo by Erik Baard)

Hay ride to the pumpkin patch! (Photo by Erik Baard)


Autumnal beauty: a pumpkin patch snug in the Catskill Mountains. (Photo by Erik Baard)

I’m grateful to the Green Heart NY program of I LOVE NEW YORK , the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Apple Association for such a doubly special day — I got to share wonderful places with kids who need these experiences  while promoting local farms to boot.

There's so much more to see in the Catskills, but there's a good chance you'll wear your kid out. 🙂 (Photo by Erik Baard)

And the 2011 Greenest NYer Winner is… Erik Baard!

30 Apr

I LOVE NEW YORK is pleased to announce the 2011 winner of the Greenest NYer title, Erik Baard.  Erik was honored today at Escapemaker.com’s Green Getaways Local Food & Travel Expo in Brooklyn, NY.

In the coming weeks, please keep an eye out for a personal message from Erik as well as many more posts to come!

Here is a bit about Erik, pulled from his contest submission:

“I’m a native New Yorker, the grandchild of immigrants, and I love New York. One of my greatest joys is exploring my home’s natural splendor and food heritages, and finding ways to preserve and share those gifts as a volunteer.

I founded the LIC Community Boathouse, which provides free paddle tours on the East River to thousands of people, arranges beach cleanups, and advocates for marine ecology. I also started what grew into City of Water Day, our harbor’s biggest annual gathering of paddlers, rowers, and conservationists. To promote local eco-tourism, I conceived of the MetroBoat and worked with the MTA and Folbot to execute it.

Where I can’t kayak, I bike. I’m a founding member of the Queens Volunteer Committee of Transportation Alternatives. Each year I marshal several public rides and work continually with the committee to improve transit, bike, and pedestrian options. I also founded the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration, which donates hundreds of heirloom apple saplings (especially NY varieties) to public spaces throughout NYC each year. We’re also working with UN diplomats to save the ancestral Kazakh apple forest.

As a writer, I advocate for NY’s environment through my Nature Calendar blog, professional articles, and pro bono contributions. Another aspect of my green work has been professional management, overseeing programs, grants, and volunteers for Earth Day New York and Citizens Committee for NYC. I’d be grateful to augment my happy work as the Greenest New Yorker!”

We are very happy and proud to welcome Erik as Ambassador to the Green Heart NY program, and though Kaity’s enthusiasm and passion will be missed, we believe Erik will succesfully fill the big shoes she leaves behind!

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