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Resources: Heirloom Apples & Other Edibles

September 25th, 2012

It’s fall and that means apples. Mr Chiots is an avid apple fan, both the fruit and the computers. When we head to the market he’s at the apple booth asking about new and interesting varieties to try.


Last summer we visited Seed Savers Exchange and spent time in the heirloom apple orchard. We were blown away by all the beautiful heirloom apples and grapes. We even picked a few up off the ground and tasted them, something they allow and encourage.

Now that we have a larger piece of land, Mr Chiots and I have plans to put in a few more apple trees. In my dreams, a few of them will become espaliers. There are a few old apple trees with the property, most likely we don’t need to add any more. But can you really resist the wonderful heirloom varieties when you read their descriptions?

Through the years, I’ve been collecting links for places that sell heirloom apples. Here are the ones I have found, please mention any you know of in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Most of these places offer other varieties of fruits, nuts, and perennial edibles as well.

Cloud Mountain Farm Center – Cloud Mountain Farm Center is a working 20 acre farm in the Northwest corner of Washington State. We grow fruit, vegetables and nursery plants for local markets, and to create educational opportunities for the general public and beginning and existing farmers. We offer workshops, seminars and festivals throughout the growing season, as well as internships for farmer training. The Center helps farmers and the community network to develop a strong local food system, and provides innovative information about regional agricultural opportunities. Cloud Mountain Farm Center has extensive ongoing variety and growing systems trials for both fruit trees and vegetables. Our nursery produces and sells quality woody fruit and ornamental plants for Pacific Northwest gardens, and our fruit and produce is seasonally available at the farm stand and at the Bellingham Farmers Market. Sales of nursery plants and produce go to support the educational programs at the Center.

Fedco – Welcome to Fedco Seeds, your source for cold-hardy selections especially adapted to our demanding Northeast climate. Each year we observe hundreds of varieties, selecting only the best for inclusion in our catalogs. Through our product lines and cultural hints, we encourage sustainable growing methods. We offer a large selection of certified organic cultivars and regional heirloom varieties. We buy products from all over the world.

Grandpa’s Orchard – Fruit trees are our specialty. Welcome to Grandpa’s Orchard™. The best nursery source for large, high quality bare root fruit trees, nursery stock, and fruittree rootstock for your garden and back yard orchard. Grandpa’s Orchard offers hundreds of varieties of bareroot apple trees, sweet cherry trees, tart cherry trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, prune trees, apricot trees, and other fruit tree varieties for your backyard orchard, including lots of hardy, heirloom, and disease resistant varieties.

Grow Organic – Apple, fruit and nut trees for the homestead. A wide variety of options.

Henry Leuthardt Nurseries – These particular heirloom varieties, grafted onto dwarfing rootstock have done exceptionally well. In fact, dwarfing such varieties has greatly improved the size, quality, and flavor of their fruit. Perhaps in perusing the items categorized as Rare and Choice or Old Varieties you will find something – something you will remember – the apple that used to make such unequaled pies and apple sauces – the apple that you saved for the teacher expecting that the memory of it would last until examination time. They also specialize in espaliered trees.

Miller Nurseries – one of the largest selections of fruit and nut trees, berries, grapes and much more. Choose from 65 varieties of apples, all types of berry plants, cherry, peach, nectarine, plum and pear trees, including Asian pear varieties. Surround yourself with ornamental bushes and roses, flowering and shade trees, asparagus, persimmons, currants, gooseberry plants, paw paws, garden aids and more!

One Green World – Source of heirloom apples and all varieties of other edibles. Located in Oregon.

Permaculture Nursery – Specializing in perennial edibles for permaculture.

Raintree Nursery – Raintree selects fruit varieties for flavor and ease of growing, with you the backyard gardener in mind. We have searched the world to collect the best backyard fruit varieties for you, the American gardener, as you will see as you enjoy our catalog.

Scott Farm Vermont – Scott Farm produces 70 varieties of ecologically grown apples – heirloom apples such as Roxbury Russet, Belle de Boskoop, and Cox’s Orange Pippin and unusual apples like Winter Banana and Hidden Rose – some of the finest in color, texture, and taste. Other fine fruits include quince, gooseberries, medlars, Asian pears, plums, raspberries, elderberries, table grapes, pears, blueberries, nectarines, and peaches.

St. Lawrence Nurseries – St. Lawrence Nurseries is a small, family-run business. The Nursery was started in the 1920’s by Fred Ashworth, a Northern New York farmer and plant breeder who during his lifetime made many contributions to the world of edible and ornamental plants, but especially to the relatively undeveloped realm of cold-hardy fruit and nut trees. Bill MacKentley met Fred in 1972, and, inspired by this extremely knowledgeable yet humble and generous man, worked with him as a friend and apprentice. When Fred Ashworth died in 1977, Bill decided to continue his mentor’s work, propagating new and old varieties of cold-hardy edible plants and making them available to growers in northern climates. Bill and his wife Diana purchased the land in Potsdam, New York, where Fred had carried on most of his nursery work. Over the years, by collecting and planting seed from Fred’s original nut tree selections and by continuing to propagate the many fruit cultivars tested and recommended by Fred, we have kept much of his knowledge and experience alive. To this we have added new discoveries and experience gained from living and growing trees in an uncompromising climate.

South Meadow Fruit Catalog – Southmeadow Fruit Gardens was established to make available choice and superior varieties of fruit trees and plants for the connoisseur and home gardener. After searching for sourcewood and testing for authenticity, these varieties are propagated at our nursery in Southwestern Michigan. They are available to the public through this online catalog.

Seed Savers Exchange – they have an apple grafting workshop and you get to take home a few heirloom apples if you attend. I wanted to attend this year but had a scheduling conflict. Follow them on Facebook to keep abreast of their events.

Trees of Antiquity – As always, our nursery is centered on the rich history and future discoveries that our heirloom apple trees provide through the years. We continue to discover the unique flavors, textures and lore that surround our heirloom fruit trees and look forward to extending this experience to your home.

Tower Hill Garden – Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA. They are have a Shades of Autumn Festival which will include taste-testing tours of the famous antique apple orchard – with 119 varieties of pre-20th Century apples. They also offer whips or scions in the spring as well.

Vintage Virginia Apples – Rural Ridge is a family-run orchard dedicated to exploring the varieties of apple that can thrive in Albemarle County,Virginia. Thomas Jefferson experimented with 18 or more varieties of apples at Monticello, only a few miles from our orchard. Rural Ridge grows the dozen or so of those cultivars that are still extant as well as hundreds of other old-fashioned varieties that offer delightful alternatives to the limited varieties currently available in grocery stores.

Wagon Wheel Orchard – Offer bench grafts of hundreds of varieties of apples and pears. Not all varieties are offered each year. Like them on Facebook to keep up with their graft sales.

One reader mentioned in the comments that The Home Orchard Society is a great resource for gardeners like us. They offer lots of information and a scion swapping in the spring.

What’s your favorite variety of apple? Any great heirloom apple resources to add to the list?

More Resources:
Heirloom Seed List
Seed Potato Sources
Alternative Allium Sources

34 Comments to “Resources: Heirloom Apples & Other Edibles”
  1. Adelina Anderson on September 25, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for all that information on apples. I have spent the better part of the summer trying to convince my husband that we need apple trees and other fruit trees. I would like to think I am very close to getting my way…

    Reply to Adelina Anderson's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on September 25, 2012 at 6:21 am

    I LOVE espaliered fruit trees–both the look and the idea of using a wall as solar heat storage.

    Two of the nurseries you mentioned are near us. This is Apple Central. And yet we can’t grow apples worth a, um, hoot on our property. Irritating. They don’t like the wind off the lake in the winter. Or our soil by the lake. My favorite and one I really wish I COULD grow is a variety called Burgundy. Best apple sauce apple ever.
    kristin @ going country´s last post ..I Just Don’t Even Know What To Say About This

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      MMM – that sounds like a GREAT apple! Wonder if I can grow it here?

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. DeeDee on September 25, 2012 at 7:07 am

    We found an amazing place in Cosby,TN last year when we were there. Can’t remember the name right now, but we will definitely be returning again this year when we head that way for a much needed vacation! I’ll let you know when we get back! I also love that the boys named that as a “must do” above all of the expensive commercial options in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge!

    Reply to DeeDee's comment

  4. Linda on September 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I’m glad to see Millers on your list. They’re located about an hour from us and I’ve been to their store. The plants we’ve ordered from them are always good quality and, of course, they’re acclimatized to our area.

    Once we buy and move to our next home next spring, I’ll be sure to look into the dwarf heirlooms from Leuthardt. We’ll have less land, so dwarfs will be part of our “game plan”.
    Linda´s last post ..The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

    Reply to Linda's comment

  5. Marina C on September 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

    We have nearby in VT Scott Farm, a Landmark Trust property where Ezekiel Goodband grows 70 varieties, many heirloom. he also seells saplings.
    My favorite heirloom is a French apple dating back to 1546 called Calville Blanc d’Hiver, a fragrant, white fleshed, knobby apple, pale yellow with touches of pink, the quintessential apple for making tarts or anything with apples that will transport me back to Paris, where I grew up. It has a fragrance like a good dry white, some equate the taste to that of Champagne.
    I started a sapling 6 years ago… I will buying apples from Scott farm still for years to come!
    The good news is that dwarf trees produce the soonest… However they live less long, but I am 54… Let’s plant some for our grand kids too!

    Reply to Marina C's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks, I’ll add them to the list. Looks like they sell trees as well! I’ll have to stop by there sometime on my way back to Ohio!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Joan on September 25, 2012 at 7:54 am

    My absolute favorite is FEDCO Trees, here in Maine. They have hundreds of varieties, give you lots of information on each, and have different ones every year. I can spend hours reading their catalog.

    I have a couple of apple trees that I would love to give you if you would like to have them. They’re ones I grafted onto a nice hardy rootstock a few years ago, so they are a good size for transplanting now or in the spring.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on September 26, 2012 at 7:31 am

      That sounds great Joan!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Rocky on September 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        I haven’t bought Trees from them, but FEDCO carries very good cold hardy vegetable and flower seeds, tubers, and bulbs. In my opinion, they are better than Johnny’s seeds. You have to check it out. http://www.fedcoseeds.com/

        to Rocky's comment

  7. Allison on September 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

    We live on an apple orchard and have had a tough time identifying some of our varities! We have taken them to other larger orchards in the area and they couldn’t either! At best, we know they are an heirloom of some sort :)
    Allison´s last post ..Local Halloween

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • cathy anderson on August 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      Allison, I too also have alot of old apples varieties that each has it’s own wonderful flavor etc. I have been trying to get some one to come out and look and take scions for grafting as our old farm in Holden, Maine was a apple orchard in the 1800’s . Also we keep finding new apple trees that are in bad shape but we are trying to bring them back to life.
      Maybe someone on this site knows of apple lovers that would help people like us,

      Reply to cathy anderson's comment

  8. Kat on September 25, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Does Fedco Trees of Maine offer heirloom varieties? If not, they certainly have a lot of local varieties!

    http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees.htm

    Reply to Kat's comment

  9. Julie on September 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

    What a great resource! Thank you for taking the time to put together this list–I definitely want to add to our mini orchard. We purchased two heirloom apple trees from Trees of Antiquity–and I was impressed with the quality and service. We just planted the trees last fall and haven’t had fruit yet, but they look healthy and happy! For southern gardeners, there’s a great book: Old Southern Apples by Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr. I met Mr. Calhoun, and he’s incredibly knowledgeable about the history and varieties of heirlooms. He also made the recommendations of what variety we should grow in our climate–Blacktwig! Gorgeous photo of the espalier!
    Julie´s last post ..Lovely Lemongrass.

    Reply to Julie's comment

  10. Misti on September 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

    We live too far south for apple trees (we’re pushing it for peaches) so when I found some ‘wild’ apple trees in PA last year I was ecstatic. I’m sure someone who wandered wild in Florida would feel the same way about seeing the ‘wild’ citrus too!

    I am hoping that the bulk apples come in soon down here in Texas because I want to make some dried apples, and applesauce.
    Misti´s last post ..Dipping into the Hall of Mosses | Olympic National Park

    Reply to Misti's comment

  11. Louisa on September 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I don’t like Miller nurseries. All of our plants from them keep dying(and we live close enough to go to the nursery and buy them ourselves!) We have had much better luck with Stark nurseries. They don’t have the best variety of heirlooms, but they always have some, and all their plants are so vigourous and healthy.

    Reply to Louisa's comment

  12. Bekki on September 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

    One of my favorite apples for baking and making sauce is Smokehouse. They originated from Lancaster, PA in the 1800’s. We bought our trees from Millers Nurseries and they have done well. We hope to see fruit next year.

    Reply to Bekki's comment

  13. Cally on September 25, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I go bonkers for HONEYCRISP apples. MMMMMM! There’s just nothing like them. So sweet and juicy!
    Cally´s last post ..Would You Like That Coffee Fresh…or Funky?

    Reply to Cally's comment

  14. Annie on September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I’ve bought a number of things from Edible Landscaping and have always been pleased. I think they offer more for kinda southern climates and they don’t have a HUGE variety of heirlooms but they do have a nice selection of all types of edibles. I bought my tea plants from them and they were beautiful when they arrived and are still thriving. Not like some of the little sticks you get when you order from some places! lol!
    Annie´s last post ..Kitchen Sink Drama

    Reply to Annie's comment

  15. Linda G on September 25, 2012 at 10:51 am

    You might want to check out Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA. They are having a Shades of Autumn Festival 10/6-10-8 which will include taste-testing tours of the famous antique apple orchard (2pm each day)-with 119 varieties of pre-20th Century apples. If memory serves correct, they also offer whips or scions in the spring as well.

    http://www.towerhillbg.org/

    Reply to Linda G's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks – great resource – sounds like a great event. I’ll add them to the list.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Dorothy on September 25, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Two excellent nurseries in the Pacific Northwest that have heritage apples are Raintree Nursery in Morton, WA and Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson, WA.

    Reply to Dorothy's comment

    • Becky on September 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you so much! I am in the PNW, too, and just purchased 5 acres the end of this summer. I finally have room to start planting things like fruit trees and was wondering about good local sources. :)

      Reply to Becky's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks for mentioning these – I added them to the list.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. igardendaily on September 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Wow! You’ve compiled a great resource on heirloom apples and more. I don’t know if I have the space for any more apple trees though. I have two apple espaliers and they are the pride and joy of my garden each fall. Last year, some of the photos were published by Fine Gardening. I don’t grow heirloom because I wasn’t thinking about that when I put them in. I did source locally grown Fuji and Gala trees though and the fruit is delicious. One for fresh and one for fresh or cooking. I’m tempted with all these wonderful resources to figure out where I could be another espalier in….
    igardendaily´s last post ..R, S, T in the Garden

    Reply to igardendaily's comment

  18. BeccaOH on September 25, 2012 at 11:09 am

    That’s my apple guy there. Won’t you miss the crusty old gent? :-)

    Reply to BeccaOH's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Love Mr Vincent!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. Emily on September 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Grandpa’s Orchard http://www.grandpasorchard.com/ in SW Michigan has a bazillion varieties of fruit trees (apple, pear, peach, etc.), many heirloom, improved heirlooms, and cider-specific apples.

    Reply to Emily's comment

  20. Melanie G on September 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    This is great! I was excited to see several nurseries that carry Yellow Transparents – my grandparents always had these trees in their yard (Shenandoah Valley, VA) and I’ve never found another apple that makes a sauce anything like these. We’re renting now, but I’ve saved several of these links to make sure we have them handy when we’re ready to plant apple trees!

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

  21. KimH on September 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I dont have any space for apples.. but if I did, I’d plant Esopus Spitzenburg… my most favorite heirloom apple, and supposedly Thomas Jeffersons as well. Its crisp & spicy… Yum!

    We also really like Macoun, Burgandy, Melrose & Cortland too. And I love Northern Spy for making apple butter.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  22. Bethany on September 25, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Also not for apples, but you mentiond previously at you try to integrate some permaculture principles in your gardens…Food Forest Farm is a Permaculture nursery in Holyoke, MA. http://www.permaculturenursery.com/

    Reply to Bethany's comment

  23. Nita on September 26, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I have to add Raintree Nursery in Washington or One Green World in Oregon. Both have some old varieties and also newer ones including cider varieties. Not to mention all their other edible fruits… The Home Orchard Society too is a great source – fruit tasting in the fall and scion wood exchange in the spring!

    My favorite all purpose antique apple is Northern Spy :) Fresh eating, cooking, and it keeps well into March for us here in the Pacific Northwest!
    Nita´s last post ..Fall Colors

    Reply to Nita's comment

  24. Tracy on September 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    John Bunker, who lives in the next town over, is really the source of the best apple knowledge in Maine. And Fedco Trees offers a lot of heirloom varieties and you can get good prices on them by picking them up yourself (which you can now, being in Maine). John also offers an heirloom apple CSA, which is a fun way to try a lot of new varieties: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/slow_food/blog_post/out_on_a_limb_heirloom_apple_csa/

    Reply to Tracy's comment

  25. cathy anderson on August 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Another website http://www.orangepippin.com that sells apple trees ( over 200 heirloom varieties) and other orchard fruit, the site has loads of information and wonderful color photos as well. I plan to order a few trees from them.

    Reply to cathy anderson's comment

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