This afternoon I was shamefully late for an event put on by my good friend Erik Baard in the southern portion of Randalls Island near Hellgate Bridge. In my tardiness I missed a talk by the Kazakh diplomats who had braved the inclement weather and traveled from the UN just across the East River. I also missed Erik telling the kids from the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation (who had also crossed the East River from East Harlem earlier) all about apple trees ancient history in Kazakhstan and recent history as a favorite crop among early American Presidents. I, however, get there in time to dig in and help the children plant the trees (my favorite part). The kids are always inspired by pushing shovels into the earth and genuinely love planning the trees. They faltered a bit one all that was done and it was time to carry mulch from the pile to the field but the work got done and everyone gathered under some tents to enjoy some hot apple cider and crisp Newtown Pippin apples. It was a bit rainy and the temperatures (finally) began to drop but it was a spectacular day!
I am very grateful to my friend for having me be involved with his apple planting projects. As you may know from previous posts he is bringing NYC’s heritage apple species, the Newtown Pippin, into gardens throughout the city. But today was different. Erik has developed a relationship with some folks at Kazakhstan’s mission to the United Nations and they are bringing ancient apple trees to New York in the hopes that they will cross pollinate with the local cultivars to breed new hybrids of pippins that take on the strong disease and pest resistance of the Kazakh trees. If any of you living in NYC would like an apple tree for your school, church, community garden or other public space (it must be public), you can contact Erik directly by visiting his Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration web site .
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For more information about this event, check out the New York Times City Room Blog post: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/for-the-big-apple-an-ancient-gift/