Category Archives: The Dirt: News & Events

Early Bird Enrollment

The early bird gets the worm – in this case, 10% off the cost of camp tuition for summer 2015. Enrolling as an early bird means you pay in full by October 1st and save 10%. Early bird enrollment forms are available below, and can also be found under the camp enrollment tab of our website. Happy worming!

Early Bird Enrollment – Bergen/Rockland
Early Bird Enrollment – NYC
Early Bird Enrollment – Westchester

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Upcoming Autumn Events

During this fall season our events are all about (you guessed it) pressing apples into cider. We’ll be doing this at a few different locations, so be sure to stop by, say hello, and take a sip of the season’s bounty.


Hungry Hollow Co-op’s 20th Annual Farmer’s Festival 
Saturday, September 27th, 11 am – 4 pm

Farmer's Festival!

Farmer’s Festival!

Join us at the Hungry Hollow Co-op‘s 20th Annual Farmers Festival, featuring hayrides, local food, and live music all day. Local grass-fed beef burgers (and more) on the grill, organic cider pressing (that’s us!), children’s activities, demonstrations, gardening and farming books, bake sale, samplings & tastings, and lots more. Admission and activities at this event are free.

841 Chestnut Ridge Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977


Green Meadow Waldorf School’s Fall Fair
Saturday, October 11th, 10 am – 5 pm

Fun at last year's Fall Fair

Fun at last year’s Fall Fair

Continue or create a family tradition, surrounded by Green Meadow‘s beautiful fall foliage. Candle dipping, tree climbing, hayride, pumpkin carving, puppet shows, face painting, cider press (that’s us, again!), plus fabulous vendors of one-of-a-kind handmade items; caramel apples; live music; and organic food on the grill.

307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977


Nature Place Open House and Cider Pressing Public Program
Saturday, November 1st, Cider from Noon – 1 pm, Open House 1 – 4 pm

Turning the press

Turning the press

Join The Nature Place Day Camp for our very own cider pressing public program: apples through the ages, an appearance from Johnny Appleseed (complete with his tin pot hat), and plenty of apples to grind and then press into fresh cider. Come by for a fun program and fill your cup with some sumptuous cider.

After pressing cider, stick around for our autumn open house to learn more about The Nature Place. We’ll take you on a tour of camp, view photos from summers past, and answer any questions you might have. Families can stop by our open house any time between 1 and 4 pm.

307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977

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Ed’s Corner

Bang! Clunk!

When I hear these sporadic and loud sounds on  my outside deck I know, 1. that the oak trees are beginning to drop their acorns, and, 2. It’s time to get the apple press out because the apples are ready now just as the acorns are. The apple and the acorn are both fruits, that is, they developed from flowers and contain a seed or seeds that can grow into new trees. But it’s the fruit from the apple tree that I will seek – the apple.

As I lug the press out of storage in the barn it feels good that cider making marks for me the changing seasons and allows me to connect with and participate in the year’s movement. I want to be more than a bystander as the earth revolves around the sun. I feel as if it is a celebration of sorts, a ritual, an anchor to fall, something dependable that also ties me to the past. Why do I do it? Because a year of seasons has passed and now its fall, again, and time for cidering.

Ed Pressing Cider

Ed pressing cider – photo by Fernando Lopez

And the cider is delicious! I like to use a variety of apples and press them all together. The amber liquid that gushes from the bottom of the press into our waiting pot seems happy to have been released from it’s former apple homes. Do you know that if you sip your cider slowly you’ll be able to taste fall, winter, spring and summer, for it takes 4 seasons to make an apple. You might even taste the rain from the storm that fell on the orchard last July.


This amber liquid is called apple cider. If I filter this cider then it is called apple juice. You can think of cider as apple juice with the pulp.

There are many stories and sayings about apples: the tempting fruit in the Garden of Eden; the fruit that conked Sir Issac Newton on the head and started him thinking seriously about gravity; the poisoned one that caused Snow White to take a long chill until a handsome prince came along; ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ (you know, this could be much cheaper than the current Obama plan.)

And there was, of course, Johnny Appleseed. Supposedly, according to legend, he was friends and talked with the wild animals; wore no shoes; wore a pot on his head; preached the good words of the Bible to whomever would listen. He walked and walked all around the mid-west, handing out apple seeds and trees. The Native Americans were known to be kind to him, and to leave him alone. They stayed clear of people who seemed a little ‘off’. I’m not saying that he was, but …

We will learn about Johnny and apples and cidering during our apple cider pressing programs we have scheduled this fall. You’ll even get a chance to meet Johnny!

I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.

Turning the press

Turning the press

Here’s a bushel of nifty apple information:

  • The early Native Americans had only crab apple trees to pick from, the apples probably being small, hard and not sweet.
  • European settlers, as early as 1630, brought seeds and small trees to this country that provided the first sweet, juicy, flavorful apples we know today.
  • So, when we say “As American as apple pie”, there is really, in the bigger picture, not a long history to that statement. We could say instead, “As American as maple sugar and syrup”, for the Native Americans were making maple sugar well before the first Europeans set foot on the continent.
  • Those first European apple trees were probably not too productive for there were no honeybees in this country to serve as pollinators. Later immigrants brought over with them the first honeybees.
  • The Native Americans called these first honeybees ‘English flies’.
  • In colonial times apples were known as ‘winter bananas’ and ‘melt-in-the-mouth’.
  • There are over 10,000 kinds of apples in the world.
  • The birthplace of the modern apple is Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
  • Charred apple remains were found in a stone-age village in Switzerland.
  • In 1796 a farmer in Ontario, while walking the “back 40″ of his property, came upon a kind of apple tree he had not seen before. He decided, because the apples had such a special flavor, to propagate the tree and to plant more. His name – John McIntosh.
  • Each year, China grows half or more of the world’s apples. The U.S. is second.
  • In the U.S. Washington State grows most (60%) of our country’s apples.
  • Apple ‘cider’ is what we call the juice that comes directly from pressing the apples, without doing anything to it. Apple ‘juice’ is that same juice, only filtered.
  • ‘Hard’ cider is cider that has been fermented and contains alcohol.
  • The most common drink during colonial times was one that was plentiful and could keep/not spoil: hard cider – morning, noon and night, adults and children!
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Wild and Edible Crabapples

It seems that everywhere I’ve been lately, I’ve come across trees covered in ripe Crabapples. I’ve been taking advantage of this abundance and have gathered bagsful. Nowadays folks rarely seem to make use of this amazing fruit, yet it has been revered by different cultures for centuries. The Anglo-Saxons regarded it as a sacred herb which they used in their Nine Herbs Charm, which had the reputation of curing almost any ailment, as well as driving away evil spirits.

Crabapples in a basket

Crabapples in a basket


With the fruit I had been gathering, I decided to make Crabapple butter. I boiled down the fruit until it was soft and mushy then I pushed it through a fine sieve, using the bottom of a ladle. I put the used mush into a bowl and added some water, mixed it up and pushed it through the sieve again. I did this three times until I had a bowl of buttery pulp. I put this back into the saucepan and added enough sugar to take away the tartness, and sprinkled in a little cinnamon for flavor. I simmered it until it was thick, then poured my Crabapple butter into a jar.

Crabapple Butter

Crabapple Butter

I was wondering how I could make use of it. Both my daughter and I immediately thought of crabapple rugelach. However, as I was about to put a chicken into the oven, I decided some of the butter would make a good basting sauce.

I knew I had a Granny Smith apple, some walnuts, some Macadamia nuts, garlic and a red pepper on hand. So I made up a stuffing using the crabapple butter to bind it together, stuffed the bird and put it in the oven. An apple/cinnamon aroma permeated the kitchen and the sauce imparted a delicate flavor to the chicken.

Roast Chicken with Crabapple Butter

Roast Chicken with Crabapple Butter

The next day, I decided to make Crabapple rugelach. As I had gathered more fruit that morning I began by boiling it down then putting it through the sieve as I had done before.  I mixed it with the crabapple butter, added sugar, chopped nuts and raisins.

Crabapple Rugelach

Crabapple Rugelach

I made a rugelach pastry, rolled it out into four circles, spread on the crabapple mix and cut each into 12 pie slices which I rolled up and laid out on oven trays. I brushed them with an egg and milk mix, sprinkled on some coconut sugar then put them in the oven. Twenty minutes later, I had four dozen rugelach sitting on wire racks to cool. They were seriously delicious!

Paul Tappenden is the Rockland Forager. See regularly updated blogs, videos, events, and what he and other foragers, herbalists, and naturalists are up to at www.suburbanforagers.com.

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Ed’s Corner

At the beginning of each camp day we – campers and counselors –  might share a special or unusual natural happening or event that we experienced the day before. We call these sharings and the actual event or thing, Natural Moments. As we are out and about in our world, which is also the world of nature, there are many opportunities to see, hear, smell or touch something ‘cool’. It’s a moment that might make us just whisper inside ourselves, WOW, which I contend is the acronym for ‘With-Out-Words’. A Natural Moment takes us out of ourselves and makes us feel part of a bigger something.

To increase the chances of Natural Moments, two things have to happen: A) be outdoors and B) pay attention.

A Natural Moment that I recently experienced:

I took my youngest, Nathaniel, to a local mall for a bit of Mother’s Day shopping. When we got out of the car we saw, no, we were in the middle of, waves, close-to-the-ground, of delicate white petals being blown first in one direction and then in another. We just watched for two minutes as the waves of petals scooted across the strip mall parking lot, around cars, some being ‘caught’ in puddles. Nathaniel said it was like snowflakes that never melt. We wondered where the final resting places would be for the petals. Or even it there is such a thing as a ‘final place’.

IMG_1030

There is no ‘right’ place for nature, for Natural Moments, for the chance to say WOW. Every place, even the mall parking lot, can be a nature place.

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