Earth Day 2023 with Sam Van Aken: Re-Orcharding New York | Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture

In 1970 more than 20 million Americans coast-to-coast took to the streets to advocate for a healthy, sustainable planet, marking the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Today our collective Earth work must continue with even greater urgency. As part of this year's Earth Day programming, NYBG hosts artist, professor, and fruit tree grower Sam Van Aken for a dynamic discussion about grafting—a centuries-old horticultural technique—and its integral role in improving local biodiversity and habitat conservation.

Among its many forgotten histories, New York City was the origin of fruit tree growing in the U.S. From the indigenous Lenape (Delaware) people cultivating plums, apples, and cherries, to the Huguenots from France introducing grafting and other agricultural practices in the 18th century, the city and region have been shaped by waves of migration and those who brought fruit along as a connection to home.

Fascinated by the historical narratives and cultural significance embedded within fruit and their ability to preserve genetic diversity, Sam Van Aken will share his citywide project, The Open Orchard, a public orchard on Governors Island that launched in 2022 and contains nearly 250 fruit tree varieties that once grew in and around New York City but disappeared with the rise of industrialized agriculture. Van Aken will highlight the process of returning these lost varieties to sites throughout the city and its environmental benefits. He will also highlight additional projects such as his partnership with NYC Parks GreenThumb, which distributes additional trees to local community gardens.

We offer Continuing Education credits (CEUS) for LA CES and APLD for successful completion of this lecture.

Support for the Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture has been provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

To register for Sam Van Aken's Apple Grafting Master Class, visit this page.

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