Trinity Heritage Orchard Project
Do you have a very old fruit tree? Maybe an apple, pear, plum or cherry that was planted by Trinity County pioneers? If so, the Trinity Heritage Orchard Project wants to know.
Following the 1850’s gold rush, miners and settlers streamed into Trinity County. Some of their fruit orchards still survive, with apple and pear varieties rarely found today. These “heritage”, “antique” or “heirloom” fruit varieties were generally introduced in the U.S. pre-1900. These early varieties were bred for flavor and specific uses, such as sauces, ciders, dessert or long-keeping. Heritage apple varieties planted in Trinity County include Baldwin, Ben Davis, Blue Pearmain, Holland Pippin, King, Northern Spy, Red Limber Twig, Rhode Island Greening, Swaar, and Yellow Bellflower. Heritage pears include Fall Butter and Clapp’s Favorite. How many of those varieties have you seen at a market lately?
The Trinity Heritage Orchard Project plans to use this unique horticultural heritage to provide a food resource and promote economic development. The first step is to develop a list of where our ancient fruit trees are, and then collect fruit each fall to identify the variety. For some trees, a bud or shoot will be collected to graft onto new rootstock to propagate a new tree. These descendants of our pioneer trees will be planted along with the existing heritage fruit trees at Lee Fong Park, the Trinity County Fairgrounds Pioneer Homestead and other public locations.
Most heritage fruit trees on public lands receive little maintenance. The fruit rots or is eaten by deer and bear. We plan to change that by promoting the use of heritage fruit trees as a food resource and showing you how to care for fruit trees. Look for our upcoming workshops on harvesting and processing fruit (September) and pruning (February).
We’ll also be handing out information at the farmers markets and County Fair on how to dry or freeze fruit and make fruit leathers.
We’ll promote heritage fruit as a marketable product. Would you like to try a Duchess of Oldenberg apple jelly? How about Winter Nellis pear butter? We hope to develop a market for these unique products. We’ll promote agritourism through activities such as a heritage orchard “trail” and fall harvest festival, with apple tastings, cider pressing and other fun activities.
We recently received grants from the University of California’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program ($9584) and the California Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils ($2000) to kick off the project. We’ll be applying for additional grants to fund portions of the project.
The Trinity Heritage Orchard Project is a joint effort by UC Cooperative Extension and the Trinity Resource Conservation and Development Council. For more information or to add your tree to our list, call Carol Fall, Trinity UCCE at 628-5495 (Tuesdays & Thursdays).