The Gardeners of the Forest City are holding an apple butter fundraiser to provide money for yearly projects that the group does throughout St. James. Members met on Monday at Huffman’s Flowers of the Field, spending the day mixing and creating gallons of the apple butter that will be sold in locations throughout town.
“This is something we do every year that helps us raise money for a scholarship we give out, (for funds) going to the horticulture fund, and so we can take care of the planters downtown in the plaza beds,” Kristy Kochis explained. She added that the money raised would be used for projects such as planting flowers along the railroad tracks as well as providing a special project to offer a scholarship to a St. James student who is interested in horticulture. Every year, the apple butter drive is successful; offering quality, hand-crafted apple butter for sale to the St. James community.
Group members spent Monday crafting quart upon quart throughout the day, hand-mixing in caldrons at the business. “The first day we pick the apples and the second day we start cooking the apples early in the morning until they are good and soft,” Gardener Judy Raymond explained. After straining the apples, “they are put back into the kettle and we add sugar, oil, and cinnamon,” she said. Each year, the group meets early in the morning to begin the process, a longstanding tradition of the group. Raymond said the recipe is Beda Dillon’s and has been the same since the organization began holding their annual fundraiser. The process takes hours of constant stirring and attention and members have made it an annual tradition to come to the mixing location and share together in the process of hand making their famous apple butter.
In the past, money raised has helped with tasks like landscaping the Tourist Information Center, but most funds go into the scholarship fund and to aid the group with the purchase of supplies to maintain the 30-plus downtown plaza planters and to care for the flower beds in the St. James cemetery. The group has also recently started a pollinator bed at the Tourist Information Center they maintain.
Apple butter will be available for purchase at Huffman’s Flowers of the Field, at the Tourist Information Center, and at Forest City Health Mart while supplies last. “We’ll sell it until it’s gone,” Kochis said. Anyone interested is encouraged to support the Gardeners of the Forest City by purchasing a $5 jar at one of the locations.
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