NYC Orchard Planting!

On Wednesday, April 28, at 4PM (gathering nearby at 3:30PM) the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration will plant NYC’s first public access orchard!

This 40-tree orchard will include Newtown Pippins and other apple varieties (mostly heirloom) at Randall’s Island Park. This is a call for public participation and not a press advisory, which will be coming soon from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, and Green Apple Cleaners.

Please attend as a planter or to cheer them on at this historic occasion at beautiful Randall’s Island Park! Supervised children are welcome! Indeed, we scheduled this event to be after school hours so that parents and program coordinators might bring them.


330PM: Meet at the Icahn Stadium entrance and walk to the orchard grounds (its hard to find on your own).

Directions to Icahn Stadium:

4PM: Remarks by officials and partners in the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration.

4:15PM: Begin planting the trees under guidance from the Randall’s Island Park horticulturalist Phyllis Odessey, with assistance from other experts. The holes are already dug.

5PM: Conclude and clean up.

5:15PM: Depart.

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and Randall’s Island Sports Foundation will provide shovels and gloves. These trees count toward the MillionTreesNYC program.

We will also use this gathering to form a Friends volunteer group (with a sign-up list) for the Randall’s Island Park orchard to ensure that these trees are watered and otherwise receive care and attention. We should have first fruits by 2015 and a full harvest by 2020. When the trees are mature, the orchard will be open. Bikers will be able to dismount,  stroll over to pick fruit (I’m working with allies to plant other edible species on the island and throughout the harbor), and continue on their way. This will be a delight for ourselves and generations to come!

We hope you can be part of this joyous occasion.


Newtown Pippin City Council Resolution!

We’d love to provide a FREE pair of apple trees for you to plant in your schoolyard, community garden, park, or other public space.
Also, please check out the Resolution 2009-2009 introduced by NYC City Council Member Gennaro, chair of the environmental protection committee, to declare the Newtown Pippin the official apple of the Big Apple!
You can search for it under the term “pippin” here:

Write to your Council Member asking her or him to co-sponsor the resolution! Find your representative here: sure to include the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration website:


Join the Restoration and Celebration!

A Newtown Pippin. Image courtesy of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Monticello.

A Newtown Pippin. Image courtesy of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Monticello

We’re donating over 100 apple trees to public spaces throughout New York City in 2009, and hundreds more will follow in coming years! That’s right, the Big Apple is becoming a beautiful and diverse urban orchard. The highlight of this joyful undertaking is the restoration and celebration of our city’s heirloom fruit, the Newtown Pippin.

Thanks to a sponsorship from Green Apple Cleaners, care and guidance from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (GreenThumb, MillionTreesNYC, Greenbelt Native Plant Center), and pioneering local orchard replenishment by Slow Food NYC, a distributed orchard is being created among  botanical gardens, community gardens, schools, houses of worship, and other public spaces in New York City.

Our primary goal is to restore and celebrate the Newtown Pippin, our city’s heirloom apple. NYC Councilman James Gennaro, chairman of the environment protection committee, responded to our call to have this green apple designated the official apple of the Big Apple so that this heritage would never again be lost. A green apple is also a fitting symbol for our urban environmental leadership. Or as Green Apple Cleaners CEO David Kistner pithily summed it up, “We always were the Big Green Apple, we just lost our way.”


The Big Apple has been too long without its apple heritage. The Newtown Pippin is an heirloom fruit from NYC that has been revered by those who value the art of food since it first ripened nearly three hundred years ago.  Thomas Jefferson wrote home from Paris, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.” He and George Washington planted them in their gardens at Monticello and Mount Vernon, respectively. Benjamin Franklin shipped Newtown Pippins to England, where Queen Victoria was later an ardent fan of NYC’s premier apple.

Please enjoy this wonderful write up from the Center for Historic Plants at Monticello, where Newtown Pippins are shown flowering in the above banner image:

Today, renowned food writer Michael Pollan writes, “The Newtown Pippin, originally discovered in Queens, NY, is one of the all-time great American apples– storied, delicious, and overdue for a comeback. I’m delighted about this campaign to revive the Newtown Pippin, so close to its native ground. I can’t imagine a better choice for New York City’s official apple.”

NYC Councilman James Gennaro, chairman of the environmental protection committee, is entering a resolution to do just that — honor the Newtown Pippin as the official apple of the Big Apple.

Imagine that, our own exquisite, historic green apple to represent the Big Apple as it “goes green!” Tourists and natives alike might one day pose by a grand, flowering or fruiting Newtown Pippin tree near City Hall as they do the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We’ll all delight in fresh, local fruits from Newtown Pippin trees of all sizes in our own community gardens, schoolyards, parks, campuses, and other spaces. By reviving an heirloom strain of fruit, we also protect our nation’s crops and habitat through biodiversity. Monocultures promoted by agribusiness have limited choice and left huge food stocks vulnerable to blights.

Green Apple Cleaners, GreenThumb, Slow Food NYC, Cummins Nursery, Earth Day New York, and Sage General Store are the founding partners working to restore the Newtown Pippin to our urban landscape and dessert baskets. And yes, some of us want to celebrate it as a symbol of our city’s ecological renaissance!

In 2009 we’ve promoted awareness of this wonderful legacy, and provided over 100 FREE saplings to community gardens, environmental groups, schools, and other public spaces. We hope you join us in 2010 and beyond!

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