The Apple Project
The Apple Project, initially piloted in 2010 with Maine Coast Heritage Trust funding, is a program that we offer to Washington County schools, free of charge, thanks in part to funding from Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Partridge Foundation. Our Washington County Coordinator offers programming in 6-10 schools each year, reaching hundreds of students.
In the first session at each school, a taste testing of locally-grown heirloom varieties introduces students to new flavors and piques their interest. This is followed by a discussion about the region’s apple heritage and diversity, the kids’ own apple experiences, and the biology and ecology of the apple tree. At the end of the first session students are instructed to go out into their own backyards and communities to harvest apples. At the second session, usually the following week, the Farm to School Coordinator returns to the class and leads a hands-on apple cider pressing with apples that the students have gathered. The lessons that day include how to make cider, other uses of apples, and the history of cider.
We are now entering our fourth year of Community Event offerings through the Apple Project, including two annual spring events in collaboration with Cobscook Community Learning Center. This year’s offerings included a Fruit Tree Pruning workshop in February and a Downeast Scionwood Exchange in March. Through these events and others, we engage community members with the work that we do in schools and increase the number of people who are able to provide hands-on resources to schools and families in the community.
In the fall of 2014, we brought the cider press to the Downeast Coastal Conservancy’s Lubec Apple Fest, the Pembroke Horse and Farm Fair, the Perry Harvest Fair, and a University of Maine Heritage Apple presentation and pressing. which allowed us to reach hundreds of community members.