In our yard lives a 120 year old apple tree. The lower branches have been worn smooth by 2 decades of children who love to try their climbing skills. One branch is at the perfect angle for children to climb up and hug the tree. Most of the water it receives during the warmer months comes from the children emptying out the pools from their water play. Some years it doesn’t produce many apples, like last year when there was a late snow that froze the blossoms. This year we have been blessed with the largest bounty I’ve seen in the 13 years I’ve worked here. We can’t help but feel that the child energy it gets infused with, keeps the tree growing and flourishing.
Every morning we arrive to find the ground polka dotted with the apples that came down overnight. The children work in teams, filling buckets to collect the fruit and emptying them into wagons to get processed. The best ones are saved for snack to be eaten fresh, with the children often getting through 10 or more apples in a sitting. Michael cuts out the bruises that occur when an apple falls from a height taller than our 2 story school house onto pea gravel. The children line up to eat more fresh apples in the playground as he prepares them to be cooked into apple sauce.
There is excitement when a worm is discovered and the children get to watch it wriggle out of its hole. This turns into a science lesson as they try to find how it got into the apple in the first place. Teachers then hunt for books that show caterpillars eating through fruit, which then lead to an art project with children.
Once the apples are prepared and cooked, we use our Kitchenaid mill to turn it into homemade, organic, applesauce. So far we have produced over 16 gallons of apple sauce which will keep us happy for the rest of the year. The children get to witness and participate the making of their healthy snack to the benefit of all.