The Blake apple originated in Westbrook, Maine before 1869 – or so we think. The origin of this most mysterious of apples has been the source of much speculation on both sides of the Atlantic for the past twenty years. It seems that both England and Maine lay claim to an apple named Blake that is medium in size, yellowish-green in color and ripe in mid-late fall. The connection might have passed unnoticed if not for the fact that Charles Dickens immortalized a cart driver named Blake of Blundeston in his 1849, semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield. Nearly 150 years later, a British fruit explorer named Gerald Fayers discovered three apple trees, he believed to be Blake, growing near to the prison in Blundeston. And so began a twenty year search by Gerald and John to determine whether the Blake apple had originated in Maine and traveled to England, whether it had originated in England and made its way west to North America, or whether they are two totally different apples that by coincidence have the same name and similar appearances.
The key to solving this mystery is to locate the Blake apple in Maine. John’s search has taken him to sites throughout the Portland area including Gorham, Westbrook and Windham where the Blake family had roots. He has found several Blake-possibilities, all of them medium-sized and yellow. Recently he visited ancient trees in Brownfield at two Blake farms dating back to before 1800. Every year people contact him with more information and more old trees to investigate. He has seen a lot of promising candidates, several of which he has grafted onto trees here at Super Chilly Farm. We had our first big crop of one of these in late October 2016. It is slightly tart and excellent for fresh eating and also for cooking. Will we ever find the real Blake? Maybe not, but then the thrill is in the chase.