The Apples

Apples ready to be picked.

Apples originated in the Tien Shan mountain region in eastern Kazakstan. Starting around 8,000 BC, nomadic hunter/gatherers began to settle and rely on the recent invention of agriculture for sustenance. As trade and military expeditions developed (a natural outgrowth of the settling process), apples began to spread from Kazakstan into the Middle East (and then westward to Europe). Apple remains from as early as 6,500 BC have been found in Jericho, and a tablet recording the sale of an apple orchard in northern Mesopotamia for the significant sum of three prized breeder sheep, was discovered and dated to 1,500 BC.

A row in the orchard.

As apples have been cultivated over time, two main types of apples have emerged: cider apples and dessert apples. Cider apples are generally much more bitter than dessert apples and do not taste good until they are pressed into fresh juice or fermented into hard cider. Dessert apples are mainly used for eating fresh and baking (they are more similar to what one would find in the grocery store). We grow both dessert and cider apples, but you won’t find the apple varieties that we grow in grocery stores. We chose to grow specialized cider and baking apples—you can taste the difference between our apples and store-bought apples!

Our first trees were planted in 2001 and started producing fruit in 2005. Most of our trees are semi-dwarf (they are grown on a dwarfing rootstock) which makes them smaller in size and, therefore, makes the apples easier to pick. Today, there are over 3,000 trees in the nine-acre orchard and over forty-five apple varieties! We use a low-spray style of treating the trees called “Integrated Pest Management” or “IPM.” For IPM, we track what kinds of harmful bugs are in the orchard and only spray for those bugs. Additionally, we use pheromone traps, a mating disrupter for the bugs. As a result, we do not need to blanket the orchard with a much stronger, generalized pesticide. We do not spray with any organophosphates.

Orchardist Rob Miller demonstrates the technique known as “grafting.”

Please join our mailing list or like our Facebook page for updates on when the various apples ripen and are ready for picking (this varies somewhat year to year due to weather conditions).


Apples on the Farm

[click the link to go to a page with pictures, descriptions, and uses for all of the apples in our orchard]