Cider Pressing Day at TES!

We love our partnership with Thetford Elementary School (TES)! We have been particularly excited for them this year because they have been working hard to get their fruit crops into production. This fall, we loaned the school our old-fashioned cider press so they could turn apples from the school’s trees into yummy and healthy cider that the kids could enjoy right away. Local parent Sherlock Terry, a fruit crop specialist, has been a leader in this initiative at the school. He writes,

Fruits and berries are a great addition to a school garden. There are a lot of learning opportunities around fruit growing, many fruits ripen during the school year, and kids love them! At Thetford Elementary we’ve been working to take care of some previously unattended older apple and pear trees plus we’ve been planting new fruit trees and berry bushes as well. This spring we focused on getting better production from our older trees. We had a pruning day and also fed the trees with soil amendments and our own compost. This fall the students harvested the apples and had a memorable day pressing cider. There’s always more to learn and next year we hope to find out more about controlling apple pests and diseases.

As you can imagine, the students at TES had a blast not only tasting the cider, but using their strong muscles to hand-crank and press the delicious beverage. Read some perspectives below from teachers and parents about the beauty of the day.

School nurse Joette Hayashigawa writes,

On a beautiful late September day, Cedar Circle Farm lent Thetford Elementary School their charming and very easy-to-use apple cider press. We set it up in our “courtyard” among our school garden beds and berry bushes and made apple cider with excited students all day long. Not only was the cider spectacular: sweet and light and sparkling with freshness, but it made us all feel so wonderful because students had picked the apples, several bushels, from our own trees. And we have bushels left to pick which we plan to make into apple sauce and other treats. This bounty is the result of our new Fruit and Berries Initiative, led by Sherlock Terry, a TES parent. Last spring, with the help of staff, families, and other community members, we pruned our old, not very productive apple trees, took soil tests and added amendments based on the soil test results. Our apple bounty is our reward. We are also growing blueberries, cranberries and will be planting raspberries this spring. Every step of the way we are supported by parents, community, organizations interested in environmental literacy and TES’s very own farm, Cedar Circle.

Parent Emily Zolo reflects,

On a beautiful, sunny early fall day I had the pleasure of helping out with apple cider pressing day at Thetford Elementary School. Using a cider press borrowed from Cedar Circle Farm, we welcomed each class during recess time to press the apples they had gathered from the school’s own apple trees. Children took turns washing apples, turning the wheel, throwing apples into the hopper, and cranking down the press. The youngest children had trouble turning the wheel but persisted, determined to grind up a hopper’s worth of apples. The older students mastered the process quickly and became a well oiled cider pressing machine, turning out buckets of the beautiful amber liquid. After the hard work all of the students got to taste the fruits of their labor with cups of the tart and sweet fresh cider. What a great way to show children how rewarding growing and harvesting their own food can be!

As you can tell, parents and teachers had almost as much fun as the students! Stephanie Daniels explains,

It was a treat for me to spend a few hours last week in the crisp fall air to help students at TES press apples and discover the magic of fresh apple cider. The kids were super excited to see the apples that some of them had picked the day before at the school’s trees getting ground up into sweet juice. The kids were all clammoring to help turn the grinding wheel and were especially excited to turn the press down down down and watch the juice pour out the bottom of the press. A high point for me was when a student who professed to “hate anything healthy” proclaim the cider he made as “hmm, not bad!”.

The apple harvest wasn’t over in September, though. In October, the kids picked 73 pounds of apples. First, second and sixth graders washed, peeled and cored the apples. They then made them into 6 crockpots of applesauce to serve for their Open House.

We say, “hmmm, not bad, Thetford Elementary School!”

photos: Joette Hayashigawa

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