Diana Johns and Nancy Oliveri-Johns (image)

Give the Gift of “Delicious”

Submitted by Vicki Matsumonji, White Mountain Community Garden

November is the time to think about gifts for friends and loved ones. White Mountain Community Garden members, Diana Johns and Nancy Oliveri-Johns, don’t have to shop for holiday gifts because their store is only a few steps to a backyard orchard, abundant with splendiferous varieties of apples and pears. Crisp. Tart and sweet—a juicy assortment of green and red apples—some with worms because the orchard is totally organic. Despite the wormholes, many gem-like specimens without worms are just as abundant and juicy delicious.

This year, the Johns families enjoyed a bumper crop for making preserves, jellies, apple butter, applesauce, dehydrated apples and pears. Diana said a cold snap set the flavors in the apples to provide the right amount of tartness and sweetness for this year’s gifts of Delicious.

Diana and her husband, Lloyd bought the property in Lakeside in 1964. It was a perfect spring and summer residence away from the pollen and dust of Phoenix and provided relief for one of their four sons who had serious allergies.  Over the years, they acquired another lot with a cabin and then another one in order to expand their property from 1/3 acre to 2 ½ acres. In doing so, they cleared about a hundred Ponderosa Pine trees which provided lumber for Lloyd’s architecturally designed additions to their original cabin that is now a beautiful residence, more than double the original 800 square foot cabin. Nancy and her husband, Robert summer in the second cabin on the lot that was acquired many years ago.

Each year, while the pine trees were cut, the Johns Family planted apple trees—30 altogether and 4 pear trees. The variety of apples include golden delicious, granny Smith, pippin, red delicious, Gravenstein, Macintosh, and Rome in addition to a few unknown apple stock. They also planted four Bartlett pear trees to round off the orchard, which dates back 52 years when the first few saplings  were planted. Nancy says they will replace the really old trees with more when the time is appropriate because she and her husband want to keep the family tradition going.

Diana and Nancy are regular members of WMCG. Despite tending their own prolific garden, they enjoy coming to help us plant, weed and maintain our garden. It’s amazing how our community garden attracts people who are eager to help us evolve and develop into a unique center of activity for learning, great educational experience and reap the nutritious rewards. They are only two of many members who prove that gardening is an act of love resulting in giving the Gift of Delicious.