At Infant Jesus School, in Nashua, NH, we’ve worked as a community to build a pleasant, organic, permaculture garden for our students. Despite the fact that we’re very limited in space (after all, we’re an urban school whose main playground doubles as a parking lot on the weekends), we’ve been able to grow quite a variety of plants on the 200 sq. yard plot that exists between our school and adjacent Crown Street. We are especially happy to host several heirloom varieties of apples and a beautiful antique Seckel pear tree. Our apples include a Stark’s 4-in-1 Heirloom tree which features branches of Golden and Roxbury Russets, Fameuse, and Summer Rambo, all grafted onto a single rootstock. This tree was planted 5 years ago. Two years ago we put in a hardy apple variety named Liberty which was recommended for organic gardens. This year, 2017, We were able to celebrate the beginning of school by having each child harvest an organic, school-grown apple to take home and share with their family!
Observing these trees grow and change through the seasons; enjoying the sight of spring blossoms and dancing pollinators; putting up thistle and suet feeders in the branches for the birds in winter – and a little ‘house’ for the mason bees in the spring; watching and listening to the professional arborist as he demonstrated and explained the rationale behind fruit tree pruning (as well as interesting aspects of his career); harvesting windfalls and learning to pick apples directly (with a lift and twist motion of the hand): all of these have been rewarding apple experiences for our students. And then of course, there have been the tastings – including not only the fresh apples mentioned above, but delicious applesauce from the apples that fell to the ground but which were then washed, peeled, cored, cooked, and sweetened, and then served on savory crackers.
Closeups of the apples, including the Liberty variety