I have an addiction. No, not wine (although some might argue otherwise). Greens. Any kind will do: delicate shoots, hardy chard, wrinkled kale, sprightly arugula. After a period of traveling and subsequent withdrawal a couple of weeks ago, I found myself shoveling a verdant mesclun mix into my shopping bag at the farmer’s market like a bank robber stashing her loot. Noting my obvious dependency, an unfamiliar face intoned, “You must love salad as much as I do.” The voice belonged to Billiam van Roestenberg, owner of Liberty View Farm, who was helping out at Evolutionary Organics for the day, since he doesn’t yet have his own stand at the market. We began chatting about all things emerald, and Billiam mentioned that he offers a Lease-A-Tree program on his certified naturally grown apple farm in the Hudson Valley.

I’ve heard of leasing a plot in a community garden, but leasing a tree from a farm? Perhaps it was because of my New York nature-starved state, but I was intrigued. For $50, you get a tree (either Empire or Cortland), and its fruit (80-120 lbs), which you can pick anytime during the fall harvest. You’re also free to visit the tree throughout the year, including right now when the blossoms have just burst.

I’m considering leasing a tree, not only so that I could picture it out there on its hillside, waving to me on days when the soot of New York seems especially thick, but also because my Earth Day’s resolution (forget New Year’s, people!) is to start learning the valuable trade of sustainable farming—even though I’m currently a city dweller. Sure, I’ve got pots of herbs sprouting in my windowsill, but I want to learn what it really takes to grow the food that I eat. Buying bags of greens from the farmer’s market is one thing, but actually visiting the farms where my food is produced, learning the skills for growing organically, harvesting the fruit that will go into my cobblers, well, that’s another (and the Organic Winemaking Adventure is going to be my continuing education in sustainable winemaking). In Michael Pollan’s rousing article, “Why Bother: Looking for a few Good Reasons to Go Green,” from last weekend’s The New York Times Magazine, he states, “The idea is to find one thing to do in your life that … may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards.” For me, the rewards may come in the form of my own organic garden someday, or in the ability to better articulate what policies need to be implemented to best support those farmers who are conserving not only the environment, but also our foodways.

I don’t have room for 80 lbs of apples in my apartment, but even if I brought home only a bushel or two from a tree that I had cared for (if more in mind than in body), I’m sure they’d produce some of the tastiest pies and chutneys I’d ever prepared.


2 responses to “Lease-A-Tree”

  1. you’re talking to another addicted consumer of hearty organic greens. i’ve been known to sneak them across the border and delve into a bag of raw greens while stretching my legs at a rest stop on the new york thruway. i love the idea of leasing a tree. maybe you should do some sublets so everyone can enjoy the fruit!
    Michael Pollan’s comment really speaks to me. three years ago my partner and i launched The Groovy Mind with the intention of furthering the movements of environmental sustainability and social responsibility and we thought if we focused on high quality organic Fair Trade business and personal gifts it would motivate twice as many people (the giver and the recipient) to practice their politics.

  2. I love the image of you delving into a fresh bag of greens on the side of the highway! I look forward to visiting your website for gift ideas.

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