Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Apple Orchard of Melnea Cass Boulevard

A corner of Parcel 8, at the junction of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington Street, currently serves as the staging area for roadworks happening around the city. There are piles of bitumen and gravel and slabs of deconstructed road.  And there are also  8-10  about 5 apple trees, some heavy with fruit, lining the edge of the chain link fence on Melnea Cass.

Though it looks like there may be more than one variety, I was only able to reach the apples from one tree.  Mindful that the fruit of trees rooted in the raw materials for asphalt may not be healthy in anything more than a tiny dose, I sampled only one  - which was difficult because it was absolutely delicious.  Both tart and sweet, and also super crunchy, it was the best apple I've tasted for years.  These don't seem russett-y enough to be  are definitely the legendary Roxbury Russett, the oldest apple variety in the U.S. and thus qualify as heirloom varieties.

Much of this area of Roxbury was once flush with orchards - one of the reasons Orchard Gardens got its name. Maybe as a part of Grow Boston Greener or the city's urban farming initiatives, these are trees that could be nurtured and maintained. After all, what grows greener than a fruit tree that could well be over 100 years old?  And maintaining what we already have might sometimes make more sense than starting from scratch.  As the city looks to make Melnea Cass more friendly to pedestrians and forms of transportation other than the car, preserving the Melnea Cass apple orchard might be a worthy part of that plan.

Roxbury Russet apples picked from the old trees at the corner of Melnea Cass and Washington.  Delicious!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do You Know How Clean Your Air Is?

Dudley Square does. Check out the Boston Hazecam on the Airbeat site.

The above screen grab is from the website of the Roxbury air monitoring system Airbeat located on Warren Street Harrison Ave, adjacent to Dudley Station.

From its website:
"AirBeat is a pilot project sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically for the community of Roxbury.   If AirBeat proves successful in Roxbury, it could become a recipe for addressing air pollution issues in many urban areas across the country.

AirBeat is one of many pilot projects funded by the EPA under a program called Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT). The purpose of EMPACT is to make timely environmental information available to communities in a format that is useable and easy to understand. In the past, this information was usually technical and took weeks or months to become publicly available. However, with the advent of new technologies and the Internet, environmental data can be made available to the public within minutes or hours. This allows people to make informed, day-to-day decisions about their lives that can protect their health and the environment."