Top, orchard plan, 2008.
Above, children at work, 2009.
Left, quince (Cydonia oblongata). One of the many varieties of fruit growing in the orchard.
The Fall of 2008 marked the return of an orchard at Woodford. The East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA), the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP), the Fairmount Park Commission (FPC) and the Naomi Wood Trust at Woodford joined forces to plant an orchard on the grounds of Woodford. When Woodford was sold in 1769 it was advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette as having “…a handsome Garden, a thriving Orchard of good Apple Trees and other Fruit, and a Well of excellent water.” There is scant information about the original orchard—we do not know its location or what exactly was grown.
Today’s orchard recalls the historic use of the property but is not a recreation. The orchard, designed by POP, is an “eco-orchard” that is low-maintenance, sustainable, organic and has a diversity of hearty semi-dwarf trees, bushes and perennial herbs and flowers. Children from nearby Mander Recreation Center, who attend the EPRA’s after school program and summer camp, will tend the orchard and take their harvest home to share with their family, friends and neighbors.
The children will harvest rhubarb in the Spring; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and asparagus in early Summer; gooseberries, elderberries, currants, cherries and plums in mid-Summer; and finally peaches, apples, quinces, and Asian pears in late Summer to early Fall.