About the Maine Heritage Orchard
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is currently creating a ten-acre heritage orchard in Unity to preserve and protect Maine’s traditional apples and pears. The orchard, which will be unlike any other in Maine, will include over 500 specimens from every county in the state. The varieties that will be included date back to a time when most Mainers lived on farms and every farm had a small orchard of locally adapted selections. Many of these varieties are now on the verge of extinction.
The Maine Heritage Orchard will be under the direction of MOFGA’s John Bunker, a nationally recognized expert in historic fruit. With the help of other agricultural historians, numerous “old timers” and hundreds of apple enthusiasts from around the state, John has been assembling a unique collection of heritage fruit over the past thirty years. In an ongoing, state-wide treasure hunt for Maine’s ancient fruit trees, well over two hundred varieties have been identified and saved.
Fruit, grafting scions, as well as historical and cultural information on each variety will be made available for generations to come. The orchard, which will be managed using innovative, organic orchard practices, will be a learning laboratory and a model for backyard growers, orchardists, and agricultural educators. MOFGA will offer workshops and classes in the orchard year round. Prep work for the orchard has begun this summer; the first hundred varieties will be planted in April 2014.