This apple is dear to our hearts because it was "discovered" by our friend, the late Roy Slamm. Way back in 1995, though, when Roy introduced himself to John at the Common Ground Fair we had no idea who he was or that we would spend many wonderful hours together. Roy had sought out John to convince him that he had a remarkable old apple on his farm that John should see. Roy called it Canadian Strawberry. John didn't make it up to Roy's South Solon farm that fall, but over the winter he searched his books and the Agricultural Yearbooks for any reference to the apple. Finding none, he assumed that Roy was mistaken about the name and that the apple wasn't worth his time. But when September rolled around again, Roy appeared at the apple display, and this time he insisted that John come see his trees. So John made the trip to see Roy's three Canadian Strawberry trees, and he was not disappointed. The 100+ year-old trees were clustered together in the field adjacent to the house. The fruit that ripens just in time for the Common Ground Fair was like no other fruit John had seen. But one bite told him that Roy was right – this was a winner.
In the twenty years since that first bite, John has pruned those original trees, taught others how to prune them, cut scion wood from them, grafted those scions onto new rootstocks and helped to populate Maine and New England with young Canadian Strawberry trees. But in those 20 years, he has not found even one other Canadian Strawberry tree or any published reference to it. Perhaps we will never know if Canadian Strawberry originated on Roy's farm in South Solon and never left the farm or whether the Davis Family who first settled the farm brought a scion with them when they moved from Acton, Massachusetts to Maine. Possibly the variety originated on a nearby farm and was passed from neighbor to neighbor, but so far no other old trees of that variety have been found in the area. Whatever the origin, we are grateful to Roy for his persistence, his ability to recognize a great apple, and his willingness to share his treasure with the rest of us.
The medium-large, round-conic fruit is a sight to behold. The deep butter-yellow skin is overlain with a lace of vibrant orange-red. The flesh is firm and juicy, and each bite gives a flavor punch usually reserved for smaller fruit. This is one delicious dessert apple. It is said to make good early season cider, but why would you use it for anything but fresh eating? We can't grow enough of them. Thanks, Roy.