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It’s been a good year to grow grapes in Flushing, and this local nonprofit is looking for some volunteers to help with a bumper crop.

The Voelker Orth Museum will hold a Grape Harvest on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. (It had originally been scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 7, but the fruits of the vine needed another week to mature and become more fragrant.)

There’s no scheduled stomping. Participants will climb ladders and cut down Catawba grapes which have grown on the property for centuries. Then, they will choose the best ones and wash them before cooking, straining, and juicing them.

The result will be “Betty’s Zip,” a non-alcoholic punch that the historic house serves at special events. It’s named after Elisabetha Orth, who lived there in the early 1900s and worked tirelessly in the garden.

On Sept. 14, activities will take place outdoors and indoors (read: in air-conditioned rooms), and of course, the harvesters will be able to sample the goods.

The property, which is officially known as the “Voelker Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary and Victorian Garden, is located at 149-19 38th Ave.

It dates back to the 1890s, when Conrad Voelcker bought his dream house in Flushing. The German immigrant, who ran a printing business with his brothers, really loved his garden. So did his daughter, Theresa Voelker, who removed a “c” from her last name. She married Rudolph Orth, and their daughter, Elisabetha Orth, is the special punch’s namesake.

Today, the Victorian garden grows many of the most popular plants and berries from Elisabetha’s time. They are maintained her way with time-honored gardening techniques, such as hand-pruning. As such, the grapes have no toxins or pesticides.

Catawba is a red grape that probably originated in the region stretching from the Carolinas to Maryland, and still grows naturally up and down the East Coast. It can be used for juice and wine or jams and jellies.

Images: Voelker Orth House

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