An Impressive Affair: CEEDS’ 4th Annual Cider Festival

4 Nov

The Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability [CEEDS] celebrated Family Weekend with a cider pressing event* on October 25th to great success.

This being my first experience with this event I did not know what to expect.  That morning, I staggered over to Chapin annex road with a milk crate filled with 6 varieties of heirloom apples. As I rounded the corner of Chapin I was amazed to see a white pick-up truck filled to the brim with an impressive load of apples -of all different colors, shapes, and sizes.

Lily1The truckload of apples: a mix of Macoun, Gala, Empire, and Honeycrisp.

As the morning preparations continued in a flurry of table cloths and apple slicing, crowds of parents, clearly in awe with the idyllic setting of Smith College on a breezy fall morning, began gathering around the apple tasting and cider press.

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As the numbers grew I was soon unable to see anything past the heirloom tasting table where I was stationed. Parents and students crowded around the white-clothed, apple laden table, clutching compostable cups of fresh-pressed cider and samples of aged local cheeses or a Hadley-made cider donut.  I could hear the director’s voice facilitating the operation of the pressing as people called out their preferred varieties for tasting to me.

Over and over, I was asked where the apples had come from (Scott farm in Dummerston, Vermont) and where one could get some of the heirloom varieties. “Our supermarket would never have these!” was a constant refrain. ‘”I never knew there were so many kinds of apples!” was another common exclamation. It was wonderful to see so many people marveling in the possibilities of such local, diverse fruit.

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The heirloom apple tasting table.

The grandmother of a friend of mine delighted immensely in the Cox’s Orange Pippen, her favorite variety of apple, which has been unavailable to her since she moved to the States from Great Britain. She reported that she had tried to smuggle a pound of this variety through airport security a few years prior, but had had them confiscated.

I slipped her a whole apple.

-Lily Carlisle-Reske is a sophomore at Smith College from Alexandria, Virginia. She is studying environmental science and policy with a concentration in sustainable food and Italian. When she is not working she is probably in the kitchen stirring a pot of soup and baking bread.

*The event, this year in collaboration with Dining Services, included cider pressing with apples generously donated by Clark Brothers Orchard in Ashfield, MA (and gathered by CEEDS students and staff), fresh-made cider donuts from Atkins Farms in South Amherst, MA, an heirloom apple tasting with apples from Scott Farm in Dummerston, VT, and 1yr and 5yr cheddar cheese from Grafton Village in Grafton, VT.

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