Antique Apple Tree Restoration / with Abandoned Hard Cider at Thorn Preserve

Without a doubt, the Catskill Center’s Thorn Preserve on John Joy Road in Woodstock, is a beautiful property and a true treasure. It has walking paths among the meadows, a pond, and a breathtaking view of Overlook Mountain. It is also a property that has long needed much tender loving care. As a former farm, there are many apple trees around the cottage and garage. These trees have not been attended to in many years. Consequently, some are not healthy and none are very happy. Until Wednesday, April 18th, that is.

Eric Childs and Martin Bernstein are two guys in the Catskills who have found opportunity in abandoned apple orchards — they call their outfit Abandoned Hard Cider. The Catskill Center made a deal with them. If they would run a workshop on apple tree pruning, and in the process prune all of the apple trees at the Thorn Preserve, we would supply the volunteers and tools, and they could harvest the apples for their cider.

Martin and Eric agreed. The Catskill Center, in partnership with the Woodstock Land Conservancy, posted the event on our respective calendars and put the shout out on social media. The workshop was a huge success. Volunteers brought pruners, ladders, pole saws, power pole saws, hand saws, gloves, and enthusiasm. They brought a lot of enthusiasm. People came from as far north as Cairo and as far south as Glens Spey. The Catskill Center provided hot cider and cookies. Martin carefully explained and then demonstrated what to look for and how to decide which branches and limbs to cut. Then with just a little more coaching and encouragement the volunteers took to the task with gusto.

The event ran from 1 to 6 and most volunteers stuck around for nearly the full 5 hours. A few did leave, but new volunteers filled their spaces. In the end we had about 18 volunteers who worked on about 10 trees. We were also able to clean up some very large downed limbs of a white pine tree which had fallen during the recent storms. Everyone had a great time cutting, hauling the branches, making funny jokes, getting to know one another, and getting the job done. Many folks wanted to be kept informed of future planned events. One such event will likely be a bonfire on the summer solstice when we burn the pile of branches from the apple tree pruning. Keep checking our Facebook page and events calendar for the exact date and time of the fire.