Orchard Project at Sagamore Hill

This past week I spent my days working with a group a really great people to restore some areas of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. I had a lot of fun in the process of meeting and making new friends with some of the new field team members. We communicated well and worked hard together to accomplish the goals that we had set in the historic orchard located in Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (SAHI).

Sagamore Hill National; Historic Site is an incredible place of peace and tranquility and history. One of the reasons why this park is such a vital space for people is because it is the home of former president Theodore Roosevelt. This was also the residence where he mainly lived out his days, telling stories of the rough riders and proving what he could for his friends and family. But apart from that there is still much to be gained from the landscape of the park itself. All around you’ll find gently rolling hills, natural fields, the orchard where he grew apples and pears for his family, and woods in the very back that lead to a gorgeous beach. All of these things combined with the fact that is was the home of a former president is what makes Sagamore Hill National Historic Site so important to the people of New York.

Working in the orchard!

While at the park we performed four different tasks all around the park. Some people did turf restoration, some people, restored a historic fence, some people covered up and restored water bars along the trail leading to the beach, and my group pruned and maintained the historic orchard that was used by Theodore Roosevelt and his family.

The work that we did at SAHI was very very similar, actually it was practically the same as the work that I do at John Muir National Historic Site. Considering that both parks have a historic orchard that needs to be managed and maintained, I wasn’t surprised that I had to do the same kind of pruning. In both sites you had to think about the things that trees needed and what would be best for them in the long run. This included steaking some of the saplings and pruning out a lot of the deadwood in the bigger trees. We also had to prune some of the trees in a way that would help the tree keep the shape that the trees would have been in in Theodore Roosevelt’s time. This means taking out any crossing or rubbing branches, or branches that were growing in the wrong direction to ensure a bowl or triangle shape.

Mohammed using a pole saw to prune trees in the orchard.

Me in climbing the orchard ladder to prune.

Adding a mulch ring and staking trees to protect them from mowing and pests.

Catherine using a handsaw to prune.

During this project I met a ton of awesome, new people. I got to meet all of the new field team members from Boston and New York and the leaders that accompanied them. Most everyone that went to this project seemed excited to be there and ready to start making sagamore Hill a much better park. Along with the Branching Out crew that was there, I met some really great park staff that helped me personally win the scavenger hunt at the beginning of the week. I also had some really great conversations with some other maintenance staff about the general lack of arborists and tree care professionals in national parks despite a lot of parks having historic orchards and trees as a main focus of the park.

When you consider that the park that I work at for my internship and Sagamore Hill are on completely opposite ends of the country, it only makes sense that they would have two very different landscapes. At Sagamore Hill things were a lot more lush and green. The park in general was bigger and the types of trees and plants that were naturally growing there were very different from the ones that you would find in California. Meanwhile, at John Muir, there are a lot more hills and dry grass and less lawn space. It’s in the middle of a town, so it’s surround by traffic, cars, and people all the time. Sagamore Hill has a very different, more natural and calming environment that’s very serene and peaceful to be in. While they do have some very stark differences, some characteristics that they do share are their orchards, which I appreciated very much.

If I were to be asked the question of whether or not Sagamore Hill inspired me to go to more national parks my initial answer would be no. Now this isn’t because I don’t like national parks and find no reason to go to them. It’s simply because I have already been inspired to visit as many national parks as I can and I’m just elated that I had the opportunity to visit this one and discover all the things that makes it unique and special.

One response to “Orchard Project at Sagamore Hill

  1. So glad that I had the opportunity to work with the orchard team at Sagamore Hill NHS…you all did such a great job in helping to improve the condition of the fruit trees. The work you accomplished is “core” to preserving the cultural landscape at the site (core…get it? ha!).

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