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!


  1. Just heard about your blog, love it! I live right in Dudley Square, and have been foraging these apples. I'll be posting my Melnea Cass apple butter recipe on by tomorrow if you're interested. I wouldn't worry too much about the construction materials as its filtered by a tree, and they move and change what is there quite a lot. It's way better then any pesticide, which most apples are sprayed with even at local orchards.