Renewing America·s Food Traditions Alliance

Save the Forgotten Fruits of Appalachia: Adopt an Apple!
The Appalachian region provides many terrific microclimates suited to the production of a wide variety of fruits, particularly apples. While many orchard-keepers continue to produce fruits of good quality, the diversity of commercially available fruit varieties has gradually diminished over the last century. This tragic loss of both biodiversity and local heritage is due to many factors including the demise of independently owned nurseries, the loss of regional apple growing knowledge, and global climate change (see RAFT·s Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto: Apples for more detail). At one time in US history, 15,000-16,000 unique apple varieties grew on American soil, but today only eleven cultivars of apples regularly appear on grocery store shelves. Innovative restaurants, farmers· markets, community-supported agriculture projects, and community groups (such as Slow Food chapters) work to feature other, lesser-known heirloom varieties of apples, introducing consumers to dozens of other flavors and textures. The forgotten fruits of Appalachian need your help, too. What can I do? Renewing America·s Food Traditions (RAFT), an alliance managed by Slow Food USA, is encouraging communities in Appalachia to adopt an apple that originated close to their haunts and to repatriate it to the grounds of public places as a means of keeping these living legacies alive in our hearts and in our bellies. One local project, the Apple Corps, began when Slow Food Blue Ridge member, Diane Flynt, sought to bring a group of people together who share the same goals of learning about and saving uncommon apple varieties. In the spirit of enriching the future by preserving the past, the RAFT Alliance hopes to do more than merely conserve the genetic diversity of our food supply. We want to get endangered foods back onto farms, back into the marketplace, and back onto our tables. As part of this effort, Slow Food USA chapters around the country are organizing local projects to increase the production, distribution and consumption of foods important to their locale by encouraging more farmers to grow those foods and supporting the farmers that do. There is a variety of other ways to get involved with this important effort including encouraging chefs to serve rare and endangered foods, requesting retailers to sell those foods, and, most deliciously of all, eating them. We hope these adopt an apple project examples from around the country, activity suggestions, and profiles of ten rare Appalachian apples will help Slow Food USA chapters and other forgotten fruit enthusiasts start their own projects to champion the unique and rare varieties in their region.


The Newtown Pippin apple grew as early as 1730 in a place now located in the borough of Queens. Thomas Jefferson. but it wasn·t very long ago that it gave birth to one of our country·s most celebrated apple varieties. and is campaigning to make the Newtown Pippin the official apple of the Big Apple. including Berkeley·s Chez Panisse and Yountville·s The French for more information. and grows out non-native apple varieties in trials to see how they perform in New England. grafts the scionwood onto rootstock.µ Despite its versatility and wonderful Nurserymen and nurserywomen from Monadnock Heritage Nursery also educate the public in the forgotten skills of orcharding. which originated before 1815 in Weare. grew the variety at Monticello and missed it when in Paris. Ben Watson. the nursery sold over 100 trees to home orchardists and garden centers. Members of the chapter tracked down and distributed 85 young trees to farmers who now grow the variety to sell at New York City farmers· markets. Slow Food Mondanock and the Monadnock Heritage Nursery The Monadnock Heritage Nursery. preserves and distributes rare and regional varieties of fruit trees to home orchardists and others throughout the Monadnock Region of southwest New Hampshire. Please see http://www. Rich Stadnik. was considered functionally extinct before the nursery adopted the apple. Monadnock Heritage Nursery expanded to preserve and distribute a greater variety of grafted fruit trees. sturdier apple varieties that ship better and last longer pushed Gravensteins out of the market. ´They have no apple here to compare with our Newtown Pippin. In 2010 the Granite Beauty apple became available to the nursery trade through the Fedco Trees catalog. and cherries. Seventy-five restaurants participated in the first year. NH. is fast disappearing. Each winter the nursery exchanges scionwood (tree cuttings) with other orchards. such as peaches. started by Slow Food Monadnock co-leader Ben Watson. Not only does the chapter sing the apple·s praises at county fairs with posters and bumper stickers but they also organize a restaurant project. In just two years of work. Because of the chapter·s hard work.newtownpippin. Though it once filled Sonoma County orchards. first planted in Sonoma County in 1820 by Russian trappers.slowfoodrr. Slow Food Russian River leads a project to build awareness about the Gravenstein apple and support Gravenstein farmers.Slow Food USA chapter projects focused on championing particular apple varieties and local apple diversity Slow Food New York City and the Newtown Pippin Apple It·s hard to imagine the Big Apple as a major producer of fruit. He told James Madison. such as grafting and pruning.449 acres of Gravensteins in the county but recently this number fell below 900. the Newtown Pippin was all but unavailable until Slow Food New York City decided to take action. an avid Newtown Pippin fan. The Granite Beauty apple. In 1958 there were 5. demand for fresh Gravensteins continues to increase and local farmers are increasingly filling their orchards with endangered heirloom varieties. All proceeds from tree sales support the nursery and the Slow Food Monadnock chapter·s local initiatives. pears. 2 . After this successful work with rare and historic apple varieties. Slow Food Russian River and the Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple The delicate late-summer Gravenstein apple. who have been greatly affected by suburban development and the conversion of apple orchards to vineyards. asking chefs to feature the apple on their menus throughout the month of August. For information about where to purchase Gravenstein apples please visit http://www. and other nurserymen collected and grafted this rare variety and it is now being maintained in two other commercial orchards and is listed on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. The chapter also works with other groups to plant the Newtown Pippin in public spaces throughout the city such as New York City·s first public access orchard at Randall·s Island Park.

VA. selected five different types of trees: Yates. hosted AppleFest for the first time in the fall of 2006 and continues to host this popular community event each year. Diane is happy to talk with other Slow Food chapters and groups wanting to start a similar project (dflynt@mindspring. AppleCorps members try to identify unknown varieties to compile a detailed database of information. Slow Food Triangle devised a project to plant heirloom apple trees at a local school in Durham. Slow Food Pittsburgh member Donald Gibbon became acutely aware of the not-soslow decline in the number of small orchards in the Pittsburgh to learn more about the project. Some of the unique varieties featured at the festival include Monroe. GoldRush and King David. Inspired by Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire and Frank Browning's Apples: The Story of the Fruit of Temptation. To find out more about AppleFest. NC. Local growers donated apples and volunteers taught students to press cider and make applesauce. in consultation with both David and Lee. Go to http://www. Lakewood Elementary School started a school garden in 1997 and the addition of heirloom apple trees enriched the educational experience for the students who learned about the entire process from building healthy soil to harvesting.dongibbon@earthlink. owner of Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur. art. for upcoming apple related workshops and events. students remained involved in keeping the trees healthy by using compost from the garden to fertilize the ten apple trees. Slow Food Pittsburgh and AppleFest Over a number of years. Volunteers even travel to pick up apples from the local farms so that farmers do not have to give up a day of work. Slow Food Triangle and Lakewood Elementary School Inspired by Lee Calhoun·s book Old Southern Apples. Apple Corps was born. In order to help get the trees ready for the winter. Donald decided to promote local apples through an annual event in Pittsburgh.slowfoodpgh.slowfoodblueridge. both farm and apple variety must be identified on the pie·s label. During those the chapter. NC. Although David grows over four hundred varieties of old Southern apple trees. an idea: Why not collect apples³both named varieties and wild apples²that have value and meaning but are in danger of becoming lost? And with that idea. In addition to marvelous apple-based food available to taste and purchase. AppleCorps is simply a group of people concerned with the goal of saving rare apple varieties. contact Donald Gibbon . Slow Food Triangle chose to purchase 10 apple trees from David Vernon·s Century Farm Orchard in Reidsville. Opalescent and Stayman. Members collect uncommon apples in the fall and learn to propagate new apple trees in the spring. a member of Slow Food Blue Ridge. and a highly celebrated apple pie baking competition.Slow Food Blue Ridge and Apple Corps For several years Diane Flynt. Please see The festival helps to raise local awareness about the wonderful and diverse apples available to residents and also benefits the local farmers who provide apples and cider to the festival for sale and tasting. hosted grafting workshops at the Foggy Ridge orchards. 3 . go to Slow Food Pittsburgh·s website: http://www. many attendees recalled a particular type of apple from their grandparents· farm or childhood backyard and expressed a desire to graft and propagate those varieties. These stories gave Diane. Virginia Beauty. The Slow Food Blue Ridge chapter helps to promote this project by hosting apple tastings and encouraging local orchardists and home gardeners to grow rare and endangered apple varieties. Since the apple trees do not bear fruit in the first five years. the chapter held an apple celebration at the school in November 2009. Volunteers garnered the support of the local community and helped organize the successful planting ceremony in January 2009. the AppleFest. With the help of apple expert Tom Burford. Kinnaird·s Choice. in conjunction with other local agricultural and environmental groups. To learn how to get a similar event started in your local area. a family-owned farm specializing in the preservation of apples that were once widely grown in the southern US from the 1600s to the early 1900s. the event features music. all of which continue to bear fruit with distinctive qualities. All pie entries must be made entirely from scratch using apples from local farms. Slow Food Pittsburgh.

Members of the Slow Food chapter worked with expert orchardists to procure Milwaukee apple seedlings and other rare varietals. Slow Food WiSE leader Jennifer Casey describes the adoption of the Milwaukee apple as an effort made possible by the collaboration and discussion between apple experts and apple activists. Wisconsin. Apple activists. such as this. chefs. 4 . from Maple Valley Orchards in Gillett. To see a resources list identifying orchards and nurseries that offer antique apple trees. Volunteers grafted and planted the seedlings in late May 2010 at the historic Stahl Conrad Homestead. a rare and endangered varietal that first appeared in commerce around 1899. chapter members continue to champion the importance of an investment in the future. Wisconsin could remember tasting the Milwaukee apple. including Pewaukee and Oneida. a tiny nursery that was once a large But a recent project by Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast (WiSE) hopes to bring the Milwaukee apple back to the region. and the importance of celebrating local food heritage. and orchardists patiently wait with anticipation for the Milwaukee apple trees to bear their first fruits.Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast and the Milwaukee Apple No one in Milwaukee.yolasite. please visit http://foodbiodiversity. Until then.

y Host preserving parties to make applesauce. city parks. y Organize an event celebrating the different uses for apples. Invite a knowledgeable chef to talk about how each apple variety is unique and best suited to different uses. y Interview a traditional apple orchard-keeper for an oral history account of his or her work. schools. y Organize a scionwood exchange in the spring and host a grafting workshop with local experts to teach people how to graft their own trees. and schools.Ideas for how to start your own adopt an apple project Ideas for the Apple Enthusiast: y Use the enclosed list of Appalachian heirloom apples to find an apple variety with a connection to your locale. from eating out of hand. y Organize a fresh apple tasting or cider tasting to celebrate regional varieties. applesauce. drying or preserving. Educate members of your community about the diversity of apple varieties in the region and their many uses. y Organize field trips to an orchard where the apple is already growing to teach people about the apple·s history. Ideas for the Apple Activist: y Find orchards.raftallianceorg) for suggestions on how to document your findings. backyard orchardists. cider making. See the RAFT apple diversity manifesto/manual (downloadable from http://www. y Organize a field trip to collect apples or scionwood from a nearby abandoned orchard. apple butter and other apple preserves. y Ask your local apple purveyor about purchasing heirloom apples. let us know so we can share your story with Slow Food USA chapters around the country and inspire others to start similar projects. Take notes on what you find and ask an apple expert for help in identifying the varieties. y Help orchards promote adopted varieties through events and educational signage at farmers· markets. backyard and community gardeners. and other public places willing to plant your adopted apple variety. y Encourage orchardists to learn the skill of fruit tree grafting and establish on-site nurseries for the propagation of their own trees. Do you already have a project to champion an apple variety from your region? If so. y Plan a planting day and invite local press to cover the event. y Support the creation of new apple orchards and the restoration of neglected orchards by working with local nurserymen to retain and propagate the heirlooms unique to your place. Ideas for the Apple Revolutionary/Visionary/Zealot: y Distribute young trees to willing nurseries. y Support restaurants that serve rare and endangered apple varieties. y Volunteer to help out at nurseries and orchards by assisting with grafting new heirloom apple trees. etc. to pies and pastries. 5 .

org and let us know about it! 6 .Send an email to raftalliance@slowfoodusa.

htm Walker Pippin .´ One of our favorite fall apples. Either way. dull red color. (For more information on this apple.A spicy and aromatic variety. green with a faint to prominent scarlet blush. juicy and excellent. The rich spicy aromatic flavor usually causes one to want another of these fine apples.htm Red Royal Limbetwig . Weeping type. frying. golden yellow.´ in the Nov.Mr. Tennesse²whose name. This apple is large.´ Need we say more? http://www.oldvaapples.oldvaapples. cider. Virginia has supplied us with scions and samples of this old Virginia apple. This tree was thought to be extinct for a number of years. Common Limbertwig. apple butter. We have offered the Red Horse in limited quantity for a number of years. This tree has not fruited for us in the orchard. Lee Calhoun thinks that it may be the parent of the many Limbertwig cultivars. description of the Red Royal Limbertwig: ³An excellent variety«This is not a type of Red Limbertwig. Fruit is small.´ Wrote the late Henry Morton of greenish yellow.´ http://www.htm Red Limbertwig . ³Well-known here in the Smoky Mountains as a commercial apple«good for fresh eating. jelly. one apple is usually not enough. Fruit is medium to large. 2002 issue of Smithsonian magazine at smithsonianmag.htm Lowry . and similar to Virginia Beauty in flavor. regrettably. with a reportedly firm and juicy flesh that is rather tart.oldvaapples. also known as Sour Jon.htm Reasor Green . but has performed well in our nursery beds. prized for fresh http://www. apple butter. or their colorful histories. round and some will be a bit Heirloom Apples Researchers like Wisconsin orchard-keeper Dan Bussey sifted through tens of thousands of pages of historic documents to determine where some of America·s greatest heirloom apples originated. did not make it into our Scion Source instead of rotting.htm 7 . Tree is strong. growing easily 5¶ in a single season. Likely the same as Walker¶s Yellow. Keeps all winter. red with greenish yellow with stripe.oldvaapples. bearer and see the article.An old southern apple of some distinction. Tree hardy and vigorous. Virginia in 1887. Green Limbertwig. but a type of Royal Limbertwig. ³Apples of Your Eye. Red Limbertwig is described in one of our turn-of-the-century nursery plates as ³an Old Southern variety that ought to be in every orchard south of the Potomac River. James River. and Red Jewel. Winter Jon is ³real good for pies. Urban Homestead website: Black Limbertwig .This variety was sent to us by a lady from Oak Ridge. but if tree has sufficient sunshine and proper care the color will be red all over with white pips or dots.oldvaapples. http://www. When one eats a Red Royal Limbertwig although they are large. http://www. ripening mid-summer. jelly. Very aromatic.oldvaapples. ripening September.First disseminated by our forebears at the Silver Leaf Nurseries of Lee County. Ripens October-February. firm and crisp. Fruit roundish ovate. a very thrifty grower.oldvaapples. and are listing it now as a ³first choice´ variety because it makes one of the best dried apples we have ever tasted. One of the best for fresh eating. sub-acid flavor. Flavor mild.htm Red Horse . cider and apple butter. The dark red apples are Winter Jon . We highly recommend this rugged and full-flavored type. sturdy and a vigorous grower and easy to manage«Ripens late September early October. Apple historian. Keeps all winter. Virginia. Ripens October. Virginia extension office helped us obtain scions the Spring of 2001 from ³Hop´ Slemp of Dryden. fine grower. but our good friend Harold Jerrell of the Lee County. American Limbertwig. Described at a 1914 Georgia Horticultural Society meeting as very disease resistant. Mr. Sauls thinks they might even be better. http://www. Tom Sauls of Chilhowie. very rich unusual pleasing taste. cider²all purpose. We think that this variety shows promise as a disease resistant sort. or eating out of hand when full[y] ripe. Medium their outstanding culinary qualities.This old Virginia apple has also been called Limbertwig. and white dots. if rustic. Has the peculiar habit of drying when wounded. We have found the Lowry to be a thrifty grower in the nursery.oldvaapples. http://www.A hard-to-find southern variety. Mountain Limbertwig. Apple butter made from this variety and many other Limbertwigs will be aromatic when taken from the container at the table«We recommend this variety to the home and commercial grower. you¶ll come out on top if you decide to join the debate.We quote Henry Morton again for a wonderful. dull red skin. http://www. The following inventory is a preliminary survey of heirloom apples that originated in the Appalachian region and that deserve immediate attention because of their relative rarity. According to James Lawson of Lawson¶s Nursery in middle

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Visit http://www. 423-487-2419 Heritage Apples 7335 Bullard Road. Bristol. Biglerville.O. http://www. 336-325-2298. GA 30107. http://www. Box 271. NC Big Horse Creek Farm P. 336-349-5709. PA 19310. http://www. PA 17019. Backyard Fruit Growers 5276 Steelville Road. 804-694-0470 Worley Nursery 841 Franklin Church Road. Brown·s Orchard & Cider 265 Southview Road.worleynursery.northstarorchard. Lansing.Nursery Contact Information Urban Homestead 818 Cumberland Street. http://www. PA 17307.php Boyer Nurseries and Orchards 405 Boyer Nursery PA 15057. 9 . Berry and Nut Inventory to source propagation material and young trees.applesearch.html Lawson·s Nursery 2730 Yellow Creek Road. TN 37722. Pinnacle. Dillsburg. Ball Ground. NC 27043. Cosby. Altamahaw.html Century Farm Orchards P. Mc Donald. VA 24201. PA.boyernurseries. 717-677-8558. Box 70. Cochranville. 770-893-2141.brownsorchardandcider.bighorsecreekfarm. The 3rd edition of the inventory was published in 2001.htm Refer to Seed Savers Exchange·s Fruit. http://www. Clemmons. North Star Orchards 3226 Limestone Road. 19330. VA 23061. 336-766-5842. for more information. The 4th edition is due out in November 2009. NC Orchard Lane Growers 5014 Orchard Lane. http://www. Horne Creek Farm 308 Horne Creek Farm Road. http://www. http://www. 717-432-5058.seedsavers. NC Carver·s Orchards & Farm Market 3460 Cosby Hwy.O.

Native Seeds/SEARCH. We focus on clusters of foods at risk that we feel we have a capacity to recover. using models of discovery.raftalliance. and Seed Savers Exchange. RAFT partners: American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. culturally and structurally. recovery and sustainability that may inspire others to do similar work. Chefs Collaborative. 10 . Gary Paul Nabhan. is an alliance of food. Dr. managed by Slow Food USA.Renewing America·s Food Traditions (RAFT). Go to http://www. farming. Frequent collaborators/historical partners: Cultural Conservancy. conservation and culinary advocates who have joined together to ensure that the diverse foods and traditions unique to North America reach our tables by means that make our families and communities healthier and our food system more diverse: for more information about the alliance·s current initiatives. and Slow Food USA.