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!