The Maine Heritage Orchard
About the Maine Heritage Orchard
The Maine Heritage Orchard (MHO) is a 10-acre preservation and educational orchard located at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) in Unity. The orchard is home to over 360 varieties of apples and pears traditionally grown in Maine, with more being added each year. The collection includes varieties from all 16 counties in Maine, dating back as far as 1630, many of which MHO has reintroduced to Maine growers through MOFGA’s yearly seed swap and scionwood exchange.
The orchard is planted in a reclaimed gravel pit and is managed using innovative, organic orcharding practices. In 2013 the land was reshaped into terraces, and the first trees were planted on Earth Day 2014. Clovers, grasses, native flowers, shrubs and trees are encouraged to grow alongside the fruit trees to help stabilize the depleted land, promote healthy soil growth and create a balanced ecosystem.
In collaboration with College of the Atlantic and Washington State University, MOFGA staff are in the process of analyzing and cataloging the DNA of all trees in the orchard, as well as many old trees in the state. The goal of this project is to fill in gaps in genetic lineages, confirm identification of Maine varieties and fill in the early history of European agriculture in North America.
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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
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”