Category: Maine Heritage Orchard

More Than Just Apples: A Polyculture Orchard

By Jacob Mentlik There is a lot more than just apples growing at the Maine Heritage Orchard. While most commercial orchards lean toward monoculture, featuring long even rows of one particular species of fruit tree, the goal at MHO is to create a polyculture orchard, with many species growing together in harmony, mimicking the diversity

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Wild Apples: Novel Pippins and Tough Trees

By Jacob Mentlik “Most fruits which we prize and use depend entirely on our care … but the apple emulates man’s independence and enterprise … making its way amid the aboriginal trees.” -Henry David Thoreau It is believed that the origin of the apples we all know and love can be traced back to south

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Apple Sleuths Get a Boost from DNA Testing

By Jacob Mentlik For decades Maine’s apple expert and pomological detective John Bunker has been hunting for and rediscovering rare old varieties of apples. Using all of the clues he can gather, he pieces together the history and possible locations of ancient trees, finds and collects fruit and then spends hours poring over old books

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Further Adventures in the Search for Sarah

Possibly the Sarah apple. Photo by John Bunker By John Bunker Readers of this column will recall my search for the Sarah apple – an old Franklin County variety that originated on the East Wilton farm of John Tufts and was named after his daughter. Old literature described it as “vigorous … productive, an annual bearer [that]

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Maine Heritage Orchard Update Spring 2017

The author in a Grasslings tree. Photo by John Bunker John Bunker with one of the Blake candidates. Photo by Laura Sieger By Laura Sieger, MEHO Intern In 2016, MOFGA’s Maine Heritage Orchard (MEHO) had another successful year. In April we planted 55 more heirloom varieties that were new to the orchard. From June through October MOFGA apprentices Nick

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First Heirloom Apple Collection

By John Bunker Now and then someone asks me the date of the first heirloom apple collection. I usually say 1934 – and I usually attempt to define an heirloom apple. After all, if you don’t know what an heirloom apple is, can you know the date of the first heirloom collection? The term “heirloom”

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MOFGAs New ED Has the Perfect Name

By John Bunker Not long after MOFGA’s new executive director came on board, she asked if she could join us for our next Orchard Committee meeting. The committee members were delighted. It would be a chance to tell her about our collection of nearly 300 Maine heirloom apples, as well as our innovative orcharding practices,

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The Pandemic and the Ancient Apple Tree

An old apple tree at the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine. English photo By John Bunker Magnificent, ancient apple trees can still be found scattered throughout much of Maine. Look for them behind old barns, next to abandoned cellar holes, along roadsides nestled in thickets, sometimes even beside a gas station or a convenience store

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Harpswell Heritage Apples

Toki Oshima drawing By Abbey Verrier Apples have been chasing Robert McIntyre from the time he was a little boy and his father cut down a healthy apple tree. “It didn’t have apples that I was interested in, but it sort of made a mark in my mind,” said McIntyre. Years later, as a professor

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Notes from the Maine Heritage Orchard

The Heck family – Josh, Natalie, Caroline and Kirsten, left to right – savor apples set out for tasting at the Great Maine Apple Day. English photo By John Bunker In the autumn of 1852, a farmer named N.T. True of Bethel, Maine, packed up and headed for the Oxford County Agricultural Society fall fruit

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