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The Open Orchard
Rendering: Courtesy of The Open Orchard

A giant fruit orchard is opening on Governors Island this month

A total of 102 new fruit trees will be planted on Governors Island by April 29.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

The Open Orchard, a new giant fruit orchard made up of 102 trees, will officially take up permanent residence on Governors Island on April 29, which happens to be Arbor Day.

The art project, as the orchard is being referred to, is the work of botanist and artist Sam Van Aken, as commissioned through Governors Island Arts. 

As explained in an official press release, the orchard "will act as a living archive for antique and heirloom fruit varieties that were grown in and around New York City in the past 400 years but have mostly disappeared due to climate change and the industralization of agriculture."

All the varieties of fruit that comprise the project are indigenous to, have originated in or have been historically grown in New York and, through a unique process, Van Aken was able to combine them into single trees. As a result, different varieties of fruits are growing near one another through hybrid trees. 

According to Van Aken, the most difficult aspect of The Open Orchard was to find living samples of the various fruits. The artist told The New Yorker that he had to source apples from Maine, for example, some rootstock from Oregon and stone fruits from California. A total of 250 varieties of fruit will grow across the acre-and-a-half of terrain, including pears, apricots, nectarines, cherries, peaches, persimmons, plums and almonds. 

In addition to the over 100 trees that will grow on Governors Island, Open Orchard will plant 100 more trees around community gardens and non-profits organizations all throughout the five boroughs in part­ner­ship with NYC Parks Green­Thumb, the largest com­mu­ni­ty gar­den­ing pro­gram in the Unit­ed States.

Once officially open, The Open Orchard will also be the destination for a variety of public programs, including talks, culinary lessons, workshops, performance, harvest events and, of course, fruit tastings. New Yorkers will soon also be able to pick fruits on premise! 

Suddenly, Governors Island—now open year-round and home to part of NYC Pride and a luxurious new spa—seems to be the hottest destination within the state.

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