Triploid Apples: An adventure into their history, breeding and use

One of the most important considerations to me when growing apples in the South is if the cultivar has a tolerance to pests and diseases. Called “the final frontier” by my Northern and Western apple growing friends, the Mid-Atlantic and the rest of the US South are notoriously difficult areas to grow domesticated fruit. In true Southern hospitality, our soupy humidity and hot temperatures not only extend a warm embrace to all sorts of pest and disease here, but invite them to stay for a long while and breed.

Despite this high diversity of fungal, bacterial and insect pressure, there are still old apple trees in the landscape that have survived decades upon decades of environmental assault. These trees have been the subject and target of much interest in my network of fruit explorers, as these specimens are proof that it is possible to grow purposeful fruit and trees in this landscape without toxic, self-perpetuating inputs. In past essays, I’ve discussed rootstocks being a factor in this, where larger root systems tended to produce healthier trees.  But there are more factors in resilience than just the root system. In today’s essay, which has literally been in my drafts for 3 years, I want to discuss something I’ve been casually studying for years: Polyploidy, or having more than 2 paired sets of chromosomes.

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I’ll begin with a bit of history. In the early 1900s, there was a Swedish plant breeder and geneticist named Herman Nilsson-Ehle, who had spent much of his professorial career breeding wheat and oats for high yields in Sweden. He was a huge fan of Gregor Mendel, who had released his findings on inheritance only 8 years prior to Nilsson-Ehle’s birth, and his whole outlook on plant breeding research was a hat tip to Mendel. Mendel, for those of you who may be struggling to remember, was the Monk who stared at pea plants and developed the fundamental laws of inheritance, which we encountered in high school biology as the punnett square .

Before I go any further, I want to give a quick warning. From my research on Nilsson-Ehle, it appears he was a fan of “new Germany,” and saw the genetics research under Hitler’s regime as a means to save the world. In order to only showcase the apple breeding aspect of this man, I’m not going any further in this subject. If you want to read more on his thoughts, which scarily echo modern times, you can go here: Lundell 2016

In his early research of breeding cereal crops, Nilsson-Ehle would sometimes observe natural mutations in the hundreds of thousands of seeds he planted out for observation. These mutations had much larger, rounder leaves and after poking and prodding these mutants, he discovered their large size was due to having 2 additional sets of chromosomes, or polyploidy (Usually a diploid (2 sets of chromosomes), these plants were now tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes). These plants exhibited giantism in all ways aside from vigor (which was relatively low). While the leaves and shoots were much thicker than diploids (2 chromosomal pairs), the flowers, fruits and seeds were nearly double in size. This was remarkable to Nilsson-Ehle and prompted him to theorize: If I take this mutant tetraploid and cross it back with its diploid self from the same cultivar, I should get a triploid (3 sets of chromosomes) that brings about enhanced genetics of both! 

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He was right. The tetraploids he crossed with diploids produced triploids that were more vigorous, hardy and resistant to disease than their diploid or tetraploid counterparts due to enhanced genetic modifiers inherited from the parents of two different ploidy (tetraploid and diploid). This brings me back to fruit exploring in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern US. The large majority of US cultivars known today as being able to tolerate fireblight, apple scab, powdery mildew, and loads of other issues while still persisting in the Southern landscape for decades upon decades are triploids! Including the Dula Beauty, my sturdy family apple cultivar.

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So the US picked up on Nilsson-Ehle’s breeding work and adopted it to their work in the states to breed for hardy, disease resistant apples, right? Nope. WW2 happened and we were already distracted with breeding for scab resistance (more about that in a bit). In 1950, famed berry breeder George Darrow reported on Nilsson-Ehle’s work in an address to the American Horticultural Society. In this address, he mentioned the premise behind Nilsson-Ehle’s work and connected the dots in how this way of thinking has translated into berry breeding for larger, higher quality cultivars. He briefly mentioned apples in this address, reporting that a tetraploid sport (mutant) of McIntosh had been found growing on branches of a normal McIntosh tree in New England, but the mutant branch was only half tetraploid, as the cortex of the wood was diploid (making it a ploidy chimera). He said they were trying to stabilize the McIntosh chimera as a full tetraploid through tissue culture, and I believe they achieved this due to the photo below. This was the end of an interest in sustainable fruit breeding in the US, in my grumpy opinion.

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Come on, Eliza, what about the Liberty apple? Goldrush? RedFree? Prima? [Slight rant/history on apple scab. Skip to below scabby apple pic to avoid]. Sure, there was a breeding effort between selected US land grant universities (PRI= Purdue, Rutgers, Univ. of Illinois) that began in 1926 to create scab resistant apples. They succeeded in doing so in a basic sort of way, which eventually led to the downfall of this research.  The style of their research was “monogenic,” or relying on a single gene to control scab resistance in an apple cultivar. There was also a whole lotta inbreeding going on.

The gene identified to have scab resistance is called the “vF gene,” which comes from the cultivar “Malus floribunda 821.” The reason why they picked this gene is because they could identify it in seedlings using molecular markers, so they didn’t have to waste time growing the trees to find out if it was scab susceptible or not.  That worked out well enough for a while and they selected some ho-hum cultivars (minus Goldrush, which is awesome but incredibly prone to cedar apple rust) to make available to the public. In 2002, the first reports of scab infection were reported on the scab-resistant apple cultivar ‘Prima.’

In 2011, a German pomologist wrote an article about all of this and, thankfully, it was translated into English shortly thereafter. What he found, looking into the lineage of most US and Euro scab resistant apple cultivars, was a huge amount of inbreeding going on. Not only that, but the cultivars being crossed back to themselves were highly susceptible to scab! I’ll quote directly from the article:

“Today the global fruit breeding industry is producing a wide range of varieties, with one big difference: the overwhelming majority are descendants of just six apple cultivars.

The author’s analysis of five hundred commercial varieties developed since 1920, mainly Central European and American types, shows that most are descended from Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious or James Grieve. This means they have at least one of these apples in their family tree, as a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent…” 

Many of the PRI releases have these 6 cultivars crossed multiple times in their lineage. If you do this right and bring out the right traits without problems, it’s called ‘line breeding’. If you end up with problems, it’s called ‘inbreeding’.

The second and main problem with this breeding work, in my opinion, was in our complacency with our selections. We basically ignored any further breeding efforts for scab resistance in order to pursue “Crisp” apples. Takeaway message: FEEL GUILTY ABOUT EATING A HONEYCRISP, COSMICCRISP, CRIMSONCRISP KARDASHIANCRISP ETC. BECAUSE THATS WHAT BREEDING LOOKS LIKE NOW INSTEAD OF BEING ABLE TO GROW APPLES WITHOUT MAJOR INPUTS! Too bad we haven’t been thinking about triploids or even multiple-gene scab control for the last 50 years.

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Guess who has? Russia. 

Since the early 80s, the All Russian Research Institute of Fruit Crop Breeding (VNIISPK) has continued with the scab resistant vF breeding work that spread across the US and Europe, only it is way more badass. Not only are they breeding for scab resistance, but they’re breeding for tolerance to late frosts, consistent yields without having to thin fruit, COLUMNAR growing habit AND Nilsson-Ehle’s version of triploidy (Speak a little more into my dirty ear, Russia). However, the near-sensationalism of these claims doesn’t stop there. Dr. Evgeny Sedov, the primary researcher in this endeavor (and someone I would really love to interview), closes the abstract of one of his scientific papers that goes into his triploidy research with the following that is so, so Russian:

“It is noted that triploid apple cultivars developed at VNIISPK are inferior to none of the foreign cultivars, based on a complex of commercial traits, and they significantly excel foreign cultivars in adaptability. Our apple cultivars may contribute to the import substitution of fruit production in Russia.”

Some mentioned and additional benefits of triploids (Or reasons to pursue more polyploidy breeding):

  • Adaptability to climate, disease, stress: In the above quote, Sedov writes how his triploid apple cultivars significantly kick other apple cultivar ass in terms of adaptability. And based on my research covering the last 100 years, he’s not wrong. There have been many observations by the scientific and lay community reporting that triploids end up being more cold hardy, more heat tolerant (the thickness of leaves and fewer, larger stomata give rise to a lower transpiration rate and more water retention that can be used during drought), have better nutrient uptake, and improved resistance to insects and pathogens. The theory for triploids having a higher environmental adaptability has to do with  an increased production of secondary metabolites, which enhance plant resistance and tolerance mechanisms (as well as chemical defense).
  • Thinning: Triploids often have low fertility due to a reproductive barrier of having an extra set of chromosomes- making pollination difficult. Some apple pollen tends to pair decently well with triploid apples to get a decent crop. With most cultivars it isn’t great- just good. This could be seen as a boon to this class of ploidy, but I see it as a good thing. One of the greatest challenges to organic apple production is the thinning process. Most non-organic orchards thin using chemical sprays to knock off flowers or fruits. To this day, many organic spray chemicals either do a lackluster job, or oh-god-that’s-far-too-many-job of thinning the fruitlets off, leaving many orchardists to either thin by hand or accept biennalism (which was a 3 hour conversation at Stump Sprouts one year). If you have healthy pollinator populations, less fruit on the tree will guarantee you a return crop the next year, barring other environmental catastrophes (which you’re better prepared for with triploids, anyways).
  • Vigor: In the past, I’ve written about vigor on the Elizapples.com blog and how it’s my number one enemy in the Mid-Atlantic given my heavy soils, warm temperatures and ample water supply. Though I need to revisit those essays and condense them into my current evolution of thought, the reason for my past concerns around vigor is that I have conditions that induce [what I’d like to think is] “artificial vigor.” In my climate, this shows up as extreme vegetative growth, which sometimes gives rise to heightened fireblight pressure and other vulnerabilities. Though “artificial vigor” is likely what an incompatibility of growing conditions looks like, I’ve started to differentiate it from what I’m calling “true vigor,” or youthfulness through heterosis/hybrid vigor. This is where triploids shine.

    When you start digging in old texts, back before the rise of clonal rootstocks, you might encounter mention of two classes of trees referred to as “Standards” and “Fillers.” The “standards,” often mentioned as Baldwin and Rhode Island Greening (both triploids) were larger trees that took longer to bear fruit. These were thought to be permanent trees, or trees that would be around for generations. The “fillers,” such as Yellow Transparent and Wealthy, produce much smaller trees in the same length of time and were far more precocious in bearing fruit. These trees were thought to be temporary, and were planted in between the “standards” to increase production in the early life of the orchard. An unfortunate modern day “filler” would be HoneyCrisp (diploid). Growing in my climate, it is better termed runtycrisp. Super low vigor, gets loads of diseases, precocious bearer, dies early. Sort of an orchard mercenary. This, to me, is a good way to think about vigor. If you’re growing for the long-term, you’ll want a truly vigorous cultivar that teems with youthful energy, and I believe that youth is heightened as a triploid. If you are growing in areas that are full of pest and disease, it is also not a bad idea to have an extra set of chromosomes to help with defense and stress. Relic trees standing tall in the South tend to be triploid and their presence speaks to their youth and defense: Arkansas black. Fallawater. King David. Leathercoat. Roxbury Russet. Stayman Winesap. 

    With all of this said, we have a lot of work ahead of us to start thinking about what our breeding programs would look like if we set our targets on low-input, no spray, multi-gene disease tolerance and more. I get it, HoneyCrisp can store for a calendar year in my crisper drawer, but that’s all it has going for it after a year in there.

    I am pulling for the expansion of ‘process’ industries such as hard cider, vinegar, juices, syrups, etc to become the targets of agroforestry planning and planting enterprises in the near future. Annual or livestock farmers don’t want to mess with sprays or inputs that are outside of their normal non-tree crops care. If they are going to receive incentives to plant trees on their farms, they will want the ones that need little care and have an economic outlet. This will require a new set of apple cultivars to choose from and they have to come from somewhere…

     

Here is an incomplete list of confirmed triploid apples. Many of these are from the UK and do so-so in my climate. The ones with asterisks are what I have seen as old relic trees in the Mid-Atlantic:
Arkansas Black*
Ashmeads Kernel*
Baldwin*
Belle De Boskoop
Blenheim Orange
Bramley’s Seedling
Buckingham*
Bulmers Norman
Canadian Reinette
Catshead
Close
Crimson Bramley
Crimson King
Crispin
Dula Beauty*
Fallawater*
Fall Pippin*
Frösåker
Genete Moyle
Golden Reinette von Blenheim
Gravenstein*
Hausmuetterchen
Hurlbut
Husmodersäpple
Jonagold
King David*
King of Tompkins County
Lady Finger
Leathercoat*
Margille
Morgan Sweet*
Mutsu
Orleans Reinette
Paragon*
Red Bietigheimer (Roter Stettiner)
Rhode Island Greening*
Ribston Pippin* (struggles with brown rot)
Roter Eiserapfel (Has 47 chromosomes rather than 51)
Rossvik
Roxbury Russett*
Shoëner Von Boskoop
Spigold
Stäfner Rosenapfel( Has 48 chromosomes)
Stark
Stayman*
Stayman Winesap*
Summer Rambo*
Suntan
Tom Putt
Transcendent Crab
Transparente Blanche
Vilberie
Vixin Crab
White Astrachan*
Winterzitronenapfel
Winter Pearmain
Washington Strawberry

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WOMEN NEEDED for March 4th & 5th Grafting Workshops- UPDATE to the UPDATE

THE MARCH 4TH AND 5TH CLASSES ARE FULL!!! HOWEVER….

The classes are man-heavy and I’d like to see more of a gender balance in these workshops. I’ve decided to enlarge each of these classes (March 4th and 5th) by 6 participants and those spots are only for women (or those who identify as women). What would it take to get you to this workshop (or future workshops), ladies? Whatever it will take to get you here, I want to know. Please fill out this form!

Say you bought an apple tree at Home Depot. It was a red delicious and you got one hell of a deal (maybe $10 dollars or so). You’re excited because the tree is cheap and soon you’ll have arm-fulls of apples from you own backyard.

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Well, this is all well and good until you taste these apples and find out what an awful mistake you made. Especially when you sneak over to your neighbor’s yard and try one of the apples off of their trees. You ask them what it is and they’ve forgotten, so you’re sad that you’ll never be able to buy another tree like it. You can either cry as you’re eating your gross red delicious apples, or rejoice because there is hope for you yet!

!!! I CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO TAKE A CUTTING OFF OF YOUR FAVORITE TREE AND MAKE YOUR OWN TREE FOR WAY LESS THAN WHAT HOME DEPOT CHARGES!!!

That’s basically what this workshop is all about. Sign up and I’ll not only teach you the nuts and bolts of grafting an apple tree for far less than $10, but you’ll go home with 2 trees.

With the skills I’m going to teach you, you will be able capture the fruit or ornamental qualities of whatever trees you desire and bring them to your own backyard or orchard. You’ve found a tree without any disease that tastes great? No problem! You will soon be able to propagate it. Whoa, look at that bloom! With my guidance you’ll know what to do in order to capture it…

Grafting is seriously one of the most empowering tools you can learn. I mean, it’s basically combining the thrill of creating a Frankenstein with the utility of being able to eat whatever fruit you damn well please from your backyard.

The cost of this workshop? $40 dollars.

What you’ll take home? A lifelong skill which will enable you to capture all the flavors you desire. Also you get 2 trees.

Where will it be held? Jefferson, MD

When will it be held? March 4th (sold out), March 5th from 1 to 4

And who will be leading it? Yours truly, Eliza A. Greenman. Monikers include: Elizapples or the Apple Queen (of Kyrgyzstan).

Sign up now! Spaces are limited!

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HELP WANTED! Fruit exploring for Hopewell Nurseries

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I am soon to launch The Fruit Explorers (.com) webpage, which will exist to be a resource/hub for fruit exploring projects happening around the country. But for now, I am crowdsourcing help for a huge project to find the genetics from Hopewell Nurseries, a pre-Civil War nursery which sold thousands of fruit trees, grape vines and roses (many of which are extinct cultivars).

The ledger from this nursery has been discovered and dates from 1833 to 1860. This ledger contains the names of people who bought trees and often their addresses, which is an absolute gold mine for fruit preservationists/explorers because there may still be trees/vines standing on some of these properties. Many of the cultivars produced by this nursery are now thought to be extinct…so here’s our chance to try and find what’s left. But time’s a ticking! These trees will be well past maturity and the threat of development in this area is a daily pressure on the landscape. We need to create some awareness and get information ASAP in order to see if anything still exists.

We need the following for step 1:
-TELE-RESEARCH VOLUNTEERS. For those interested in volunteering, Eliza will hold a “google hangout” to explain how she uses the public domain (internet) to do fruit exploring research. A volunteer has already gone through the ledger and typed out 26 pages of names and we need to find what we can about these people. Where they lived, if they were members of horticultural societies, etc. You can do this from the comforts of your own home (or work). This is a massive undertaking that can only happen with the help of others. Once we get this information, we’ll all be able to start searching!

If you are interested, please leave a comment below! And check out the catalog for what Hopewell Nurseries once sold!
https://archive.org/details/catalogueoffruit1859hope

Some press from the NYFC (I’m featured on their blog)

Introducing Eliza Greenman, Owner/Operator of Legacy Fruit Trees in Virginia:

Eliza in winter attire

Up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, I am the owner of a small fruit tree company, Legacy Fruit Trees- where I specialize in custom grafting and growing hard cider apple varieties (for now). This year, my first year, I’ve pre-sold 4000 trees which I’ll graft, grow, dig and ship in the coming months. Two days a week, I manage Foggy Ridge Cider’s 18-year-old, 8 acre hard cider orchard which contains 40 varieties of apples noted by people like Thomas Jefferson for making the highest quality cider.

Every day of working in the orchards is a learning experience because each variety wants to grow differently. When I’m not grafting and growing trees for other people, I’m grafting and growing trees for my future fruit and nut orchards (4 acres this year, many acres to follow). I currently have a collection of 650 apple varieties and have plans to design and plant a commercial-scale fruit and nut forest using a diversity of apple genetics and native Appalachian species.

Last year I moved back to Virginia (my home state) to start my businesses and orchards after many years spent in Maine, where I developed my passion and purpose for growing fruit and nut trees. My interest started on a small apple-tree-covered island in Maine and expanded to include MOFGA’s Apprentice and Journeyperson programs, where I steeped myself in the culture of apples.

Foggy Ridge Orchards

After 6 years of immersion, incubation, management and experiments, I received an opportunity to move back to Virginia where I could pursue my life goals of unlocking the potential of old varieties and bringing heirloom fruits back to the general public.

Many of the fruits I associate myself with have genetic resistances and tolerances to diseases facing the East Coast (even the South) and they are also purposeful- contributing to the best fresh eating and value added products one could consume. Hard cider is a product I specialize in, but I can also recommend handfuls of varieties which will make the best apple pies, apple molasses, mince meat, apple sauce, dried apples, and many other products.

Future Orchard Site

In the next few years, my trees will start to produce and I look forward to having people try these exceptional varieties. Perhapsthey will like them so much that they will want a tree of that variety growing in their yard. And perhaps I can tell them how best that tree wants to be grown. Retelling history, preserving ancient genetics, producing high quality ingredients, and creating lasting relationships with our surroundings can all be brought about with an apple tree. And that’s why I love what I do.

via Introducing Eliza Greenman, Owner/Operator of Legacy Fruit Trees in Virginia : National Young Farmers Coalition.

so how did i become an apple farmer?

Many  of my ambitions at the age of 6 are still the ambitions I show today… To explore, climb trees, be fiercely independent (proving that girls can do anything boys can) and eat fruit. Though I have conceded to men being better at lifting heavy things, my life since the age of 6 has been a long and winding road guided by trees. I majored in forestry, traveled around the United States on behalf of different forest ecosystems, traveled abroad to Germany for trees, and at the age of 25, I landed on a small island off the coast of Maine. Trees got me there and that island is where I found my life-long passion: Apples.

If you know what to look for, you’ll see trees producing edible fruits and nuts all over the country. On this little island in Maine, apples were everywhere and easy to see because all of the other trees were  evergreens (spruce and fir for the most part). I didn’t think much of apples at the time, but when my friend Lindsay asked me if I knew how to prune an apple tree,  I decided that was something this tree nerd needed to know… so I found a wonderful man from the mainland to come and teach an apple tree pruning workshop to the islanders.

Up in an apple tree armed with a saw, loppers and basic knowledge, Apple tree pruningevery cell of my body suddenly knew this is what I was meant to do. I had found my calling.  I also found love in that apple tree (there was a really cute guy next to me), but I won’t get into that because it’s off topic and ultimately dramatic. My worlds of forestry and food had collided into one amazing package: the apple tree.

I asked people if I could prune their trees to learn. I collected apples off wild trees and pressed cider with my dear friends. I learned of known apple varieties on the island and asked the island elders what they used the apples for.  I watched youtube videos on how to bench graft and top graft apple trees and with almost no experience under my belt, I taught workshops. The fact that I taught workshops then is slightly terrifying in hindsight, but I embrace it today. I actually advocate it…just do it for free and be passionate about it.

After my two year fellowship on the island was up, I moved to New Zealand to avoid winter and managed (with that guy in the apple tree) a small permaculture farm with apples, olives, figs, feijoa, avocado and other trees. Though the wonderful Mediterranean micro-climate and figs are an attractive prospect, apples and Maine still won me over.  After 8 months in NZ, I returned to the States where I had an apprenticeship lined up through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) with the apple guy of Maine, John Bunker (and his wife, Cammy).

Though I didn’t learn much about apple orchard management with John, I did eat a LOT of different apples… Probably in the realm of 400 different varieties. This opened me up to a completely new world. I ate apples that tasted like a grapefruit spritzer, cherries, , licorice, coconut water, grapes and pina colada. Some with acidity that burned my tongue and others with no acidity at all. Some apples looked like potatoes (russets) while others had a skin so thin that just holding it would almost cause a bruise. Some apples had a red flesh inside, others yellow, white, nearly green and pink. Apples were useful, too! These old varieties were known for their products like molasses, pies, hard cider, sauce, mincemeat, dried apple rings, etc. The list could go on.

Wanting to continue down the road of heirlooms and explore a trade, I then apprenticed with Diane Flynt (owner) and Jocelyn Kuzelka (cider maker) of Foggy Ridge Cider over the winter (in my home state of Virginia). Diane has 35 or so varieties of heirloom apples on her farm which she includes in her blends to make award winning hard cider and I had to be a part of that, if only for a little while. So, I spent the winter pruning cider apple trees, becoming a cider snob, learning tricks for my home-brew batches, and also discovering that I don’t want to make cider for a living…I want to grow apples and be an orchardist!

I had an orchard management gig lined up in Maine that spring, so I IMG_0105left Foggy Ridge to join 96 year-old Francis Fenton of Sandy River Apples. Working and living with Francis Fenton, a war veteran, former custodian and second generation apple orchardist, was quite the experience. I could tell dozens of stories about our relationship and what it’s like to live, work and learn from a 96 year old, but that had better be saved for another entry. Francis’ Sandy River Apple orchard had a little more than 100 varieties planted on standard-sized trees in a willy-nilly fashion across 5 acres of land. It was beautiful, chaotic and a lot of hard work. I invested myself and pushed through the long and exerting work days knowing that an apple crop was coming. That made me happy and satisfied.

Many young farmers have an experience that nearly crushes their spirits and causes them to quit. This happened to me at Sandy River Apples.  Francis’ daughter came to town from her home in San Diego after months of me taking care of the orchard and, in a way, taking care of Francis. Despite my differences with Francis over his (illegal) chemical use and his constant mantra of “there’s no money in apples,” I loved Francis as a mentor and he loved me as his pupil.   His daughter saw my interactions with him as me disrupting his “twilight years,” and 3 weeks before the first apples were to ripen on the tree, she told me that I was no longer welcome (to put it nicely). After spending the last 5 months with Francis, investing myself in the apple crop to the point where I felt like those apples were reflections on my personal self, I was kicked off the orchard. With no earnings from the future harvest, no apples, and a lost identity, I was angry, poor,  and at the lowest point of my life. I was ready to walk away from it all.

For months, I lived in a depressed state of not knowing what to do with myself. My life didn’t have much meaning; How could something I love so dearly treat me this way?   Then Diane (Foggy Ridge), who at this point didn’t know anything about my situation and expected everything with me to be apple-y, reached out and invited me to an apple conference in New York which focused on cider.  I went and reconnected with a part of myself that I feared I had lost.

As it turns out, apples ARE a part of who I am and how dare I let anyone try and take that away from me! Nietzsche’s saying,”What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” is so true. I believe I’m more of a force now than I could ever have been had I not lived through that experience. Armed with a level of cautiousness that can only come about if one is severely burned, I’ve got skills, experience (good, bad and interesting), and a life fire that makes me who I am today, an apple farmer.

To fast forward, I moved back to Virginia last fall to become a full time presence at Foggy Ridge Cider. In addition to being the cider orchardist, I’m also a new business owner and beginning farmer. I’ve started fruit tree nursery called Legacy Fruit Trees and have plans for my own orchards to happen in the very near future.

This blog is about my experiences as an orchardist and a business owner. It’s about the balance between acquiring knowledge and diving in head first. I hope to share all of the good, bad, ugly and WTF moments of my experiences. Basically I want to share how I am(so far) making this work.