Meet the crew!
So you want to know who is filling those bags with unusual apples each week? We are John and Cammy (plus apprentices), and we live on a small, off-the-grid homestead in Palermo, Maine. While we all have our own individual interests and pursuits, we join forces to grow most of our own food and to collaborate on Out on a Limb CSA. We are not a commercial farm with acres of cropland and orchards; we don't have a farm stand. Our homestead, which is carved out of the woods, sits on ledge. All the soil in our gardens was created with lots of compost, love, and labor. Over 300 varieties of apples grow here, but our orchard is less about production and more about preservation of rare varieties. Some of our trees have as many as 10 different varieties growing on them. So while we grow a lot of apples, we don't always have enough of any one variety to share with all our CSA shareholders. That is why we pick and purchase some of the apples in our CSA from other orchards that have rare varieties. In the past 5 years we have planted two new, larger orchards that we hope will supply our CSA shareholders in the future with apples that they can't find elsewhere.
If you are still curious, here's some more about us:
John grew up in Massachusetts and California, but on his first visit to Maine at age 11, he knew that Maine is where he would make his home. He moved to Super Chilly Farm with a bunch of friends on the day he graduated from Colby College and has never left. Over the years he has tried his hand at many different ventures- teaching high school English, managing the Belfast Co-op Store, selling salads and cider at the Common Ground Fair, teaching shop at Pine Island Camp, building housesand purchasing for the Federation of Maine Co-ops. Yet none of these things grabbed his attention like the the old apple trees growing in the fields around Palermo. As he picked the fruits from these neglected trees each fall, he began to notices the differences in the apples - to his surprise they were not all Macs. Through seasons of observation and hours of discussions with the old timers around town, he learned to identify the different varieties and appreciate their stories. His interest grew into a passion that became his life's work.
In 1984 John started Fedco Trees ostensibly to encourage others to plant trees, but really it was a way to fund his insatiable habit of tracking down heirloom fruit varieties in all corners of Maine. You can read about his adventures each year in the Fedco Trees Catalog and also in his book, “Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine.” John has done such a good job spreading the word about the pleasures of heirloom apples, that now people line up at the Common Ground Fair to view his apple display and bring him old apples to identify.
John's most recent project is creating the Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA. This orchard which is located in a renovated gravel pit adjacent to the MOFGA fairgrounds will be home to 500 or more historic pears and apples. When he is not thinking about apples, he....ok, he is always thinking about apples.
When Cammy moved to Super Chilly Farm she was determined not to have anything to do with apples - being responsible for growing, harvesting and preserving the vegetables, berries, stone fruits and herbs on the farm was enough to keep her interested and busy. But after years of resisting, she finally came down with a bad case of'apple fever' ; now she can be found up in trees pruning in February, helping John cut scion wood inMarch, grafting new trees in April, fretting about pollination in May, thinning apples in June, weeding trees in July, waiting for that first Trailman apple to ripen in August, lugging her apple ladder from tree to tree in September, putting on tree guards in October, baking, baking, baking in November, watching the carboys of cider ferment in December, and wassailing the orchard in January. However, she still says "no" to digging out tree borers. Prior to giving herself over to apples, she worked with youth at The Food Project to build a more just food system in Greater Boston and as a Horticultural Therapist at Green Chimneys School. Cammy and John have three grown daughters and a son-in-law who like to come visit, but only after all the firewood has been cut and stacked.