The Trust for Governors Island announced in a press release on April 11th the opening of a new commissioned artwork by artist Sam Van Aken.
Titled The Open Orchard, this permanent NYC fruit orchard will be comprised of 102 trees and will stand as a living gene bank for hundreds of antique fruit varieties that were grown in and around NYC for the past 400 years but have gone extinct due to climate change.
Good news: this permanent orchard is now officially open!
Combining art, horticulture, and environmental preservation, The Open Orchard will be ever-changing. Through a unique grafting process, Van Aken combines multiple fruit varieties into singular trees, making it possible for different varieties to grow alongside one another. More importantly, these hybrid trees take on the important work of preserving dozens of rare fruit varieties in a safe environment and maintaining vital biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.
You can also catch glimpses of this project beyond Governors Island. While 102 trees are located on the island, nearly 100 more can be found spread around community gardens and non-profit organizations throughout the five boroughs.
Some of these community gardens include:
- East Side Outside Community Garden, 415 East 11th Street, Manhattan
- Maple Street Community Garden, Maple Street, Brooklyn
- Smiling Hogshead Ranch, 25-30 Skillman Avenue, Queens
- New Beginnings Community Garden, 2502 Davidson Avenue, The Bronx
- Hill Street Garden, 50 Hill Street, Staten Island
A century ago, the U.S. was home to over 3,000 types of apples, nearly 2,000 plums, and almost 3,000 distinct varieties of peaches. Sadly, those numbers are now in the 100s.
The Open Orchard plans to increase these numbers once again and can be seen as a critical model for how to preserve biodiversity in a way that directly involves the public. It will bring in a number of different types of fruit trees, including Ashmead’s Kernel apples, Bloodgood pears, Washington Gage plums, George IV peaches, and Stuyvesant Pears.
Individuals will be able to see and taste fruits that have not been available for generations, inspiring conversation and action around the impact of climate change on our food systems.