According to research information provided by Friendly Haven Rise Farm staff, most people taste only six different kinds of apples in their lifetime. Area residents can add 200 more kinds to their lifetime apple list in one day by attending Friendly Haven Rise Farm’s 7th annual Heirloom Apple Tasting.
The event will take place at the 78th Street Heritage Farm, located at 1919 NE 78th Street, in Vancouver on Sat., Sept. 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to sample apples that taste like bananas, roses and honey. One of the apples is mouth-puckeringly bitter, but good for cider. Some have red flesh inside, others have purple or black skin and one smells like a pineapple.
In the early days of the last century, Clark County was well known for many varieties of abundant apple trees. Most of these trees were planted 80-100 years ago and that’s about the lifespan of heirloom apple trees. So, there’s a good chance some old apple trees growing in backyards and old farm fields may be the last of their varieties.
The seventh annual Heirloom Apple Festival is designed to get people excited about heirloom apples. In addition to offering visitors tastes of hundreds of unusual old apple varieties, event organizers also want to find rare and unusual antique apple trees still growing in Clark County before the old trees die out.
“If you see an apple tree taller than 25 feet, it’s probably an antique apple,” said Friendly Haven Rise Farm owner Jacqueline Freeman. “We encourage people to bring them to the Apple Fest and the folks from the Home Orchard Society will figure out what they are.
“Apples don’t grow true to seed. If you plant 10 seeds from one apple, you may get 10 different kinds of new apples,’’ Freeman said. “There’s a lot of creativity in apples. Most of them will be what we call ‘spitters’ that don’t taste that good. You have to graft a branch from an old tree onto another to keep an individual breed going. When we find rare kinds, we can graft a branch and keep the breed going.“
Area residents with old apple trees growing in backyards are encouraged to bring apples for identification. Those who want to get their apples identified, should pick 5-6 apples and put them in a paper bag (not plastic) in a cool place until the event. The apples should have the stem left on not be polished or washed. Those bringing the apples should write on the bag the location of the tree and date picked and hand them to the folks at the Home Orchard Society table at the event and watch them go through the identification search.
In past years, the event has been held at the Venersborg Schoolhouse but last year’s apple-hungry crowd made it clear the popular event had outgrown the tiny one-room schoolhouse. With added room, local nonprofits have been invited to participate and they will offer more activities.
Everything at the event is free except the apple tasting, which is $5 for adults and children under 16 are free.
Friendly Haven Rise Farm will donate a share of the profits to the 78th Street Farm for their educational programs and to Naturescaping for their work with pollinator gardens.
Heirloom Apple Tasting & Old Apple Tree Identification Apple demonstrations
• 10 a.m. – Different kinds of apple pie fillings (Master Food Preservers)
• 11 a.m. – How to grow apple trees & orchard tour (Master Gardeners)
• Noon – Plant a garden for pollinators so we have apples (Naturescaping)
• 1 p.m. – Delicious ways to preserve apples (Master Food Preservers)
• 2 p.m. – Heirloom apple history & stories (Friendly Haven Rise Farm)
Throughout the day
• Taste 200-plus apples (Friendly Haven Rise Farm)
• Apple identification (Home Orchard Society)
• Make an apple pie to take home (Friendly Haven Rise Farm)
• See cider-making on old and new presses (Friendly Haven Rise Farm)
• Buy unusual fresh apples to take home
• Vote for best tasting, prettiest, most unusual shape, tartest, sweetest, best scent and strangest flavored apples
Last year’s identifications
At the 2012 Apple Fest, the Home Orchard Society identified 80 varieties from apples brought in by Clark County residents. Among those they were able to confirm 10 apples as unusual or rare:
1. Olympia - found growing in William Shincke’s baldwin apple orchard at the turn of the century
2. Palouse - very rare Washington apple
3. Paragon - a Tennessee apple (1870)
4. Hawkeye - Iowa (1870)
5. Kidd’s Orange Red - yellow-orange with red stripes, 1924 New Zealand
6. Rambo - Introduced in 1637 by Swedish immigrant Peter Gunnarsson Rambo
7. White winter pearmain - brought to Indiana in a saddlebag in early 1800s, they were rare by early 1900s
8. Wolf River - an enormous apple from Quebec that was grown throughout the Appalachians
9. Winter Banana - a blushing yellow apple from the midwest 1876 that smells faintly of bananas
10. Yellow Belleflower - 1817 New Jersey, introduced into old farm orchards in Washington in the early 1900s