September 2, 2014 > Apples and old-fashioned fun
Apples and old-fashioned fun
By Navya Kaur
Nowadays, spending time with nature is no longer a daily occurrence, but rather an unexpected discovery. Those who stop by creeks and lakes to take pictures are surprised when spotting a farm or orchard. Gadgets and devices are making our lives better, but the hands-on experience of getting food directly from nature is no longer a necessity or priority. Instead of picking fruit with family, local grocery stores are a destination, to buy whatever is offered, solely out of convenience.
Countering this trend, residents of the Greater Tri-City area are invited to Haywards Garin Regional Park for its 26th annual Apple Festival on September 6. There will be old-fashioned group games, crafts for children, tours of the antique apple orchard, face painting, and more. East Bay Regional Park District naturalist Kristina Parkinson has been a key organizer of the Apple Festival for many years. I love this event, Parkinson said. [It is] a great way to celebrate the agricultural past of our San Francisco Bay Area and to remind people that we still rely on farms for our food.
The Garin apple orchard was established in 1985 when Emil Linquist donated his diverse collection of potted apple trees to the East Bay Regional Park District. At the time, the Park District had only started to develop plans for an antique apple orchard, but with Linquists initiative, apple trees were planted in front of the Visitor Center barn.
The orchard now has over 200 trees that produce 180 types of apple, many not sold in stores. It is known as an antique apple orchard because it preserves apple varieties too fragile to be sold in stores. Many of the apples either wonÕt keep for long periods of time or donÕt stand up to transport, Parkinson said. This has resulted in them not being sold commercially, so we were losing these varieties.
Unfortunately, due to CaliforniaÕs severe drought, GarinÕs apple orchard is expecting a significantly lower crop of apples this year compared to other years. Normally, two weeks after the Apple Festival, Garin holds a public picking day, which may not happen due to the lack of apples.
The apples are used for the Apple Festival; the public gets to pick most of them and any leftover or late-blooming apples get to find homes with the volunteers who work to keep the orchard trimmed and maintained, Parkinson said.
Apples that ripen early in the season (June and July) generally get mushy quickly and do not store for very long. Apples that bloom during mid-August through September stay fresh for at least two weeks. Late-bloomers that ripen from October to November keep for several months in cool storage. The most popular apple varieties Garin provides include Hudson's Golden Gem, Anna, and Pink Pearl. However, Granny Smith and Pippin are firm, crisp apples that make the best pies; Red Delicious and Gala, mid-season apples, make great cider and apple sauce.
There will be two orchard tours during the festival, each an hour long, for those wanting to learn more about the Garin apple orchard. ÒThe folks on a tour may get to sample an apple or two, but mostly learn about what it takes to maintain an orchard and the history of our orchard,Ó Parkinson said. ÒThe orchard is only open to the public during the tours at the ÔApple FestivalÕ and on the picking day, so come spend the afternoon with us!Ó
The afternoon will include games like kick the can, egg toss, egg on a spoon races, and tug oÕ war. People can dance to music playing in the barn or help press fresh apple cider and crank old-fashioned ice cream makers, then sample the ice cream.
ÒEach year we seem to attract more and more folks, as well as many people who return year after year,Ó Parkinson said. ÒA few years ago, the local 4-H club began bringing small animals to the festival and that has been wildly popular.Ó
DonÕt miss out on a fun, old-fashioned day will friends and family. All ages are welcome, so take advantage of one of the few times the orchard is open to the public!
For more information, please visit http://www.ebparks.org/features/GarinAppleFestival2014 or call (510) 544-3220.
Saturday, Sep 6
Noon - 4 p.m.
Garin Regional Park
1320 Garin Ave, Hayward
Parking Fee: $5