Tag Archives: newtown pippin

2012: Apple Tree Interfaith Year!

Art by Erik Baard

Season’s Greetings,
All Ye New  York  City
Dear Friends, Supporters and especially Volunteers,
Thank you for being so kind, encouraging and helpful to my work, especially the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration. As a volunteer relying on other volunteers, I can truly call this a labor of love. An archaic meaning for pippin worth reviving is “an admirable person.” Just as a pippin apple is cherished as a rare lucky strike — a chance seedling that grows to bear gourmet fruit — so should we hold dear the admirable and generous people among us. I’m grateful to have you in my life.
2012 will be the Interfaith Year for the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration. We expect to plant our 1,000nth urban fruit tree! We’ll work with our sponsors and the Interfaith Center of New York to plant heirloom and ancestral apple trees, and sometimes other fruit trees, with the congregations of houses of worship throughout the five boroughs. These trees, many of which will be grown on sacred grounds, will provide food to those in need for generations to come. In this age of worries, may these trees grow in earshot of harmonizing spiritual teachings to reassure us of our world’s natural state of plenty and remind us that our highest ideals are gratitude and generosity.
We also have plenty of additional surprises and fun volunteer opportunities coming up!
2011, our third year, was a year of enormous achievements for this project — in some ways beyond my dreams. Thanks to a new MillionTreesNYC banner sponsorship from New York Restoration Project, we planted hundreds more apple trees with schools, community groups and other partners throughout NYC.
We established an unprecedented public orchard with the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation within walking distance of East Harlem, the South Bronx and western Queens. These 99 trees are a world heritage of fabled heirlooms and 12 varieties of ancestral Malus sieversii apples from the ancient Kazakh forest where the species began (media coverage linked below). For this growing gift, a global first, we’re also grateful to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Kazakh Mission to the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Cornell University and Cummins Nursery.
Other sponsors and partners to whom we’re thankful include NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Zipcar, Green Apple Cleaners, Slow Food NYC, Bloomberg Inc., Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation (East Harlem), I LOVE NY, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, Bronx Green Up, Red Jacket Orchards, Greening Queens Library and Federation Employment and Guidance Services. A special thanks to individual sponsor Nadine Chandy.
I also took groups of Hour Children kids to two orchards (photos liked below).
And with that, I raise a Newtown Pippin to 2011 and eagerly anticipate the fruits of 2012!
Again, thank you!
Warm regards,

Randall’s Island Park Orchard Expanded!

Budding sapling in the Randall's Island Park public orchard.

The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation expanded the public apple orchard we planted with it last year. Earlier this month we returned to plant 10 saplings with RISF staff lead by horticulture manager Phyllis Odessey, volunteers from Bloomberg LP and students from PS 182 in East Harlem. We planted eight kid-pleasing honeycrisps and two more heirloom Newtown Pippins.

Bloomberg employees and PS 182 students plant apple saplings in Randall's Island Park.

Already on the island are nearly forty saplings of varieties including Newtown Pippin, Redfree, Jonathon, St. Edmund’s Russet, Elstar, and Jonathon.

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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