The apple has become so common that many of us never stop to think about the origins of this delicious and nutritious fruit. But the apple has ancient roots, and has played an important role in cultures across the world, even taking on religious and mythological importance in many societies. Here in NY State we are blessed with both rich soil and great climate, a perfect recipe for growing apples. NY ranks behind only Washington State in US apple production, and Western NY , particularly Niagara County, is one of the state's most productive regions.Katie Oakes of Lynoaken Farms explains why." A lot of it has to do with the glacial soils, we've got nice deep really beautiful soil to work with. We also have the protection of the lake, and not just Lake Ontario, but Lake Erie as well, so that kind of moderates temperatures."
Apple trees were one of the earliest trees to be cultivated, Alexander The Great is credited with their discovery in Kazakstan in 328BC. Much has changed over the years. What were once tall trees that required ladders to pick the fruit, now have been modified to be more convenient and productive." As the years have gone by they've discovered more dwarfing root stocks, then they went to fifteen foot trees," Oakes tells 2 The Outdoors " and now what we're growing are about eight foot tall trees, and different growing systems to increase productivity."
Though we are fortunate to have an abundance of varieties to choose from in supermarkets, a trip to an apple orchard can be a real eye opener. Lynoaken Farms in Medina has been around for almost a century and have been growing apples for almost 70 years. A stroll through their acres of orchards is almost like a history lesson. Oakes says many of the apple varieties grown here have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years." Our oldest variety is from 450 AD, and its from Italy and it's called Decio."
Wendy Wilson,also of Lynoaken, thinks that's pretty amazing." You're eating history ! So, when you do something like that, it immediately makes you think whoa, that's pretty cool ! That's pretty special ! "
Many of these older apple trees are known as "Heritage" varieties. In the past they were grown commonly but fell out of favor in the never ending search for "perfect" fruit, apples that were unblemished and would last longer in storage .Heritage apples are now making a comeback, and Wilson believes it's too all our benefit. " There's so many varieties of apples out there, just because Red Delicious is what you see, doesn't mean that that's what you're going to want to eat, and as we get this more into people's minds, we're developing some apple snobs ! "
So the next time you eat an apple, take a moment to consider not only their long history, but the hard work it takes to bring them to your table.Wilson reminds us ." The next time you bite into your apple, realize that really takes a village to grow that apple !"
Oakes agrees." I do think that with learning about it there's much greater awareness and much more respect for not only what farmers do, but for what our soil and our earth are capable of producing for us."
You can pick your own apples at Lynoaken Farms until November 1st. Visit their website here : http://lynoakenfarms.com/