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May 6, 2013 10:31 AM

Collecting Heirloom Apple Trees in New England

<Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples

And one man's quest to bring hundreds more back.

By Rowan Jacobsen | March/April 2013 Issue

EVERY FALL AT MAINE'S COMMON GROUND Country Fair, the Lollapalooza of sustainable agriculture, John Bunker sets out a display of eccentric apples. Last September, once again, they covered every possible size, shape, and color in the wide world of appleness. There was a gnarled little yellow thing called a Westfield Seek-No-Further; a purplish plum impostor called a Black Oxford; a massive, red-streaked Wolf River; and one of Thomas Jefferson's go-to fruits, the Esopus Spitzenburg.

Bunker is known in Maine as "The Apple Whisperer," or simply "The Apple Guy," and, after laboring for years in semi-obscurity, he has never been in more demand.

Through the catalog of Fedco Trees, a mail-order company he founded in Maine 30 years ago, Bunker has sown the seeds of a grassroots apple revolution.>

I ran across this story and found it interesting.

A great-great-great-grandson of one of the early settlers of my hometown in Minnesota is resurecting his family's heirloom apple. I think he has grafted 50 trees so far.

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  1. Gould Hill in Contoocook, NH, is another heirloom apple haven. It almost went under a few years ago, but changed hands and is still going. I've gotten Seek-no-further, Wolf River, Esophus Spitzenberg, and other interesting ones like Sheepnose and Pomme Gris there, and they have one or two varieties which are native to their orchard, and grown nowhere else. All of their apples are sold in the on-site store but not all are available for pick-yourself.