To celebrate Earth Day this past week, the Environmental Center was fortunate to be joined by committed student staff, alumni and community members to do something to give back. And boy did we ever! Following just an hour of work, our team had broadforked and tilthed two of our garden beds, planted new trees outside of the campus garden and installed five heritage apple varieties within the EC’s campus orchard and food forest.
The work was as symbolic as much s it was literal – the apple varieties were gifted to us by the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project and were all hand grafted 100+ year old trees still growing at the Old Fort Heritage Orchard, left over from an experimental orchard planted in the early 1920’s. So now we have trees from the old campus joining us on the “new” campus. This is truly a part of our region’s legacy.
The orchard now stands as a testament to legacy in one other very important way – we were fortunate to be able to name two of our trees after people who have made an incredible difference in their communities. FLC alum, Jim Carver, dedicated a tree to the memory of Della Johnson, a member of the FLC community for 25 years who, in addition to her service to the president, held our collective history. Cynthia Dott and Gary Giannini dedicated a tree in honor of their parents, Nancy and Bob Dott, ”who instilled in us a love and fascination for the natural world, and who practiced planting and nurturing new life whenever they could”. What a beautiful way to honor such incredible people and the legacy that they left.
Here is a little bit of a bio on the apples that will be joining us (and showing up in the dining hall) in the next several years:
hesn003 and hesf007 are both Wealthy: A very cold hardy apple that was introduced in 1868 by a Minnesota Horticulturist. One of its parents is a crabapple and it is a parent to Haralson which speaks to its cold hardy lineage. Excellent dessert (fresh eating) and multi-use apple, picked a few weeks early for cooking. Great in pies and makes pink applesauce. Beautiful fruit ripens in the fall to bright red across the surface. Crisp, very juicy flesh. Refreshing, sprightly, vinous flavor with hint of strawberry. Beautiful, long-lasting pink and white blossoms that make it a good pollinator.
hesz007 Hibernal: An endangered apple. Large in size, yellow skin with red splashes and white dots, flesh is yellow, crisp, and tart. These apples are good for cooking and drying. Origin is thought to be from Russia. Many Russian varieties were imported by the USDA in the late 1800’s for their cold hardy attributes. Ripens late, winter apple.
hesu004 Northwestern Greening: A popular old winter variety most especially excellent in pies. Keeps all winter and improves in storage. Ripens late turning from green to a waxy yellow.
hese002 unknown: we did not test this tree as it looked the same as another tree we did test which is a Virginia Crab; once we see apples on the tree we can confirm
Come out to the campus orchard to learn more about our apples at any point.