Friendly Apple Tree Planting

This is how it happens, a couple times a season Gotham Orchards receives a delivery of apple trees from Cummins Nursery. The following week is pretty crazy/fun. Many saplings are dropped off to their recipients, via Erik’s bike trailer. Having been given planting instructions, the new apple tree stewards determine where to plant their trees and do the planting themselves. In other cases special attention is required, as was the case with the fifty we planted at Queens College on Arbor Day. Such is the case again with the five trees being planted at the Quaker Friends Meeting House in Flushing, Queens.
It is a special privilege to work on the grounds of the oldest place of worship in New York, built in 1694. James Cleary was a gracious host and gave me a full tour of the building, steeped in history, before we set out to plant. Special care must be take not to drastically change the setting these trees are being placed in, after all the Meeting House has been a National Historic Landmark since 1967. That said, it would be hard to change things any more than the recent removal of three mature trees, each the better part of a century old, due to an Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation. This has opened up some sunny areas and now the time has come to replant some trees on site.
The Friends Meeting House itself was an orchard in the distant past and the area where we planted the apple trees used to be a horse stable, which explained why it contained some of the darkest, richest soil I have seen since moving to NYC. Eastern Queens was the historic nursery grounds for early colonial New York. Erik Baard and Gotham Orchards is striving to restore that heritage by focusing his apple tree planting efforts in this area and moving to expand his project to include various other species of fruit, nut and berry bearing trees and shrubs. Two Newtown Pippin saplings, a Swaar, a Sansa, and a Spigold where planted.
My gratitude to Erik for involving me in his tireless work is deep. Not only is he teaching me more than I could have ever imagined about this great city, he is pulling me in and including me in its rich and fruitful narrative.

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