By David Downes, Orchard Volunteer
Heman and Jane Gibbs planted apple trees in their large orchard. Although there are no remnants of their orchard, there are indications that it was located west of the Gibbs house and barn. They had enough apples for their own use and to sell at market.
Today’s Heritage Orchard started in 1999, has several varieties that the Gibbs’ could have planted in their orchard as well as some of the early Minnesota apples developed by the University of Minnesota.
Other apple varieties found in our Heritage Orchard include ones developed or discovered over 50 years ago and even hundreds of years ago. There are some from other countries, like Canada, England, France, Denmark and Russia.
The volunteers that care for the trees and apples use organic controls targeting specific pests when they are active. Bags, buckets of ‘ripe’ attractant and hanging sticky apples protect some of the apples. We keep our volunteers safe, our visitors, young and old safe, our animals and pollinators safe. We protect our trees from rabbits and mice. In May the orchard smells wonderful with all the apple blossoms. From mid-August the Red Astrachan is ripe to late October the Black Oxford is ripe. Only the MacIntosh apple is currently popular and found in some grocery stores. Several more can be found at farmers markets in the area. The flavor and aroma of each of our heirloom varieties is a wonderful aspect of these heritage apples.