Historic Orchard Campaign

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Apples are in many ways an iconic North American fruit — evoking poignant memories and traditions for so many of us. But the limited varieties available in most grocery stores do not reflect our rich, yet threatened, apple heritage. Help Seed Savers Exchange ensure that over 1,200 amazing apple varieties in our Historic Orchard at Heritage Farm continue to be preserved and shared, in turn ensuring that the diverse beauty and taste of North America’s 19th-century apple heritage is here for all of us today and for generations to come.

The Historic Orchard at Seed Savers Exchange has been delighting visitors for 30 years. Today, this incredible collection of American pomological history needs your help to ensure its continued glory as we move into the future. With the oldest trees declining in vitality and most of the younger trees in the collection sitting in nursery beds where they are not yet able to thrive, this nationally significant collection is in critical need of re-generation and revitalization.

We have, with your support, an opportunity to utilize current best practices for the long term preservation of this amazing diversity we steward. An opportunity to renew and revitalize the orchard, its goals, its mission, and the ability for visitors from across the country, researchers, historians, orchardists and our local community to experience, interact with, and enjoy all it has to offer.

Our strategy is to reorganize the structural integrity of the orchard. The reorganization is based on the knowledge that given limited space within the confines of the deer-fenced orchard, and the number of varieties we have been entrusted with stewarding, there is no longer space for two trees of each variety we hold in our collection and some varieties are at risk. We need to ensure that we continue to preserve rare and endangered varieties, and not neglect stewardship of any of the varieties in our care, so we will develop areas that utilize “high density” trellised orcharding methods to hold and manage approximately half of the trees in the orchard.

In the high density concept, one tree of each variety would be grafted onto dwarfing root stock, grown on trellises, and take up a fraction of the space of the free-standing trees. Ensuring that we have at least two trees of each variety will protect the ongoing security of the varieties in our collection. This reorganization will also allow our current collection to be grown within the confines of the orchard area (5 acres) at 880 trees per acre, with room to expand the collection as we receive new varieties. 

This incredible collection of American pomological history delights over 12,000 visitors a year, and provides apples for children to eat and for award winning ciders! But it needs your help to ensure its continued glory as we move into the future.

Your support of this effort means that Seed Savers Exchange will have the resources to steward and manage this rare and valuable orchard well into the future. Because of you, over 1,200 diverse 19th century varieties of apples will be here for all of us to share and enjoy today, and the rich beauty and taste of America’s apple heritage will be here for generations to come. 

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.