Seed Savers Exchange’s Historic Apple Orchard

Learn about the orchard saving hundreds of rare apples, including many varieties intended for more than just fresh eating, for all of us here today — and help Seed Savers Exchange save them for future generations as well.

Did you know that only 15 varieties make up more than 90 percent of the apple market in the US today? Did you know that in the Historic Orchard at Seed Savers Exchange, we are caring for over 1,200 unique varieties?! It’s true — we are stewarding an amazing and rare collection, and it needs your help.


The land that is now Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) was purchased in 1986. Visioning future use of the rugged landscape that included spring-fed trout streams, limestone bluffs, sweeping valleys and rolling hills, SSE co-founder Kent Whealy wrote

“To the east is a 25-acre upper field that will eventually be developed into orchards of historic apples.”

It took a few years to develop plans for the new orchard, collect the historic varieties, and graft the apple trees, but in 1989 the Historic Orchard was established with 277 varieties of historic heirloom apple trees. Over time, more and more historic apple varieties came into the collection, including apples intended for cider, baking, frying, long-term storage — and for fresh eating!

With the oldest trees declining in vitality and most of the younger trees 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.



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