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City Orchard Reports

This post was written by Anita Budhraja, Orchard Coordinator at Bread for the City.

This spring (March and April) at City Orchard, we have focused on spring cleaning and preparations for a fruitful summer. In addition to harvesting the greens University of the District of Columbia (UDC) generously offer us from their hydroponics greenhouses, we weeded, mulched, trellised and pruned our fruit trees and berries to prepare for the summer ahead.

And we have a new crew member! Shammah Keys is working with us in the orchard, driving and working in both food pantries.

Shammah Keys, our newest crew member, maintaining the strawberry plants.

Executive Summary

In March and April 2017, the Sustainable Agriculture program harvested 160 pounds of UDC produce and cared for the orchard to ensure long-term food production. This equates to about 170 servings of fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables distributed to DC residents through our farm to pantry operations.

The Sustainable Agriculture team engaged over 120 volunteers at orchard workdays, including Hogan Lovells Law Firm and Sam’s Club.

Harvest & Volunteer Numbers

March & April 2017 Harvest
Produce Weight (lbs) Servings (bags)
Kale 28 26
Lettuce 67 74
Collards 51 46
Watercress 14 26
Total 160 172
# Volunteers 123

Orchard News

Currently, the orchard is in a state of stress due to Fire blight, a contagious bacterial disease that primarily affects pear and apple trees. The warm spell that hit in April caused the conditions for the Fire blight to thrive. This is just one collateral effect of global warming, and we didn’t see it coming because, well, we’ve never dealt with global warming to this level before. All we can do is adapt and respond.

If you have specific questions about the Fire blight in the orchard, contact Tef.

  • The apple and Asian pear trees are coming down with Fire blight. Some of the fruits, branch tips and whole branches (and a few entire trees) had to be removed to keep the blight from spreading.
  • The strawberries are getting ripe and producing well.

The apple trees flowering before the Fire blight really took hold.

Fire blight on the branch tip and some of the fruits of an apple tree. (The white stuff is just Surround, an organic spray containing kaolin clay, a protective barrier against pests and disease.)

Work Highlights

In the last 2 months, our volunteers, staff and Purple Mountain Organics together have:

  • Harvested greens from the UDC greenhouses, bagged them and delivered them to our food pantries.
  • Planted baby strawberry plants in empty spots.
  • Installed hoops over the new strawberry field. The hoops will hold plastic covering in order to keep the plants warm during colder weeks.
  • Encouraged the growth of the baby strawberry plants by re-pinning their landscape fabric, weeding and deflowering them so they grow more foliage before fruiting.
  • Maintained established strawberry plants by removing bad berries, dead leaves, runners and weeds in order to keep them healthy and productive.
  • Sheet mulched 1/2 of the apple orchard with cardboard and wood chips, to suppress weeds, hold moisture and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Pruned Fire blight-affected fruits and branches from the apple trees.
  • Trellised, pruned and tied the raspberry plants, so they will be much easier to harvest this year.
  • Weeded sections of the raspberry, blackberry and blueberry plants.

Volunteers mulching the apple trees.


Want to see more pictures? Check them out on the City Orchard 2017 Flickr page.

A special shout out to…

  • Allison & Sonya in our volunteer department
  • Our food department
  • Nazirahk & Amanda of Purple Mountain Organics
  • UDC, our host and partner

Thank you for your support!

*City Orchard is made possible by the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, and the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program*


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