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Antique Apple Tree Grafting Seminar March 3

CAMPTON HILLS, IL: Learn how to grow your own antique apple trees at Garfield Farm Museum’s 35th Antique Apple Tree Grafting Seminar on Sunday, March 3rd at 1:30pm. For $40, participants take home 3 grafts of heirloom varieties to plant in the spring. The class begins at 1:30 pm located 5 miles west of Geneva, Ill off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Reservations are required by calling (630) 584-8485 or e-mail


    Apple tree expert Dan Bussey leads the seminar and will bring several different antique varieties of scions to graft to root stock. Mr. Bussey has written a 3500-page seven volume book on the thousands of varieties known to have existed in the US. His knowledge of making cider and baking with apples in various combinations comes from being a dedicated hobbyist at an incredibly professional level.


    In addition to growing one’s own and knowing how the apples have been grown, participants can directly connect to the American heritage that since the colonial era, was a common experience for generations. “American as apple pie” and the imagery of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) spreading apple seed on the American frontier to encourage settlement resonates with generations born up through the 1980s. With changing of school curriculums, how families do or do not educate their children, and the shifting in societal values, younger generations are not learning the most basics about American history and culture. The grafting seminar is a chance for such connection. It is also a hands-on experience in biology and how propagating living things is essential for human survival. Connecting people to the source of their food makes the case for valuing the blessings of fertile soils and good growing climates that can not be taken for granted.


    In today’s world, the many ways of preserving food, transporting fresh food across continents, the great diversity and availability of foods, even sanitary practices belie how important apples were to pre-20th century Americans. Not knowing the cause of diseases, water was often not safe to drink and cider preserved by fermentation was a popular beverage. Lack of refrigeration and food safety made cider vinegar a valuable preservative by its use for pickling. Apples could be stored or dried for winter consumption.


    What makes the grafting process so important is that it attaches a root to the old stock, preserving the old stock’s unique genetic traits. An apple seed will not grow into the same exact type of tree from which it came. Like animals, most plants, such as apple trees, require genes from two parents. Just planting the seeds of a tree doesn’t guarantee the genetic signature of the tree will be saved. Only grafting can preserve the exact type.


    At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were over 7000 different varieties of apples. Now there are less than 2000 varieties available. Not only is keeping a multitude of apples in existence important for our heritage, but also for their many of uses. The mass markets of today are looking for good multi-purpose apples. With the farmer population and orchard acreage dwindling it is important to be pro-active.


    Dan Bussey will bring scions to graft to root stock that is raised especially for grafting. He will also instruct participants on how to care for their grafts until they are planted. Mr. Bussey graciously donates his time and grafts to the farm to make this event possible.


    There is a $40 donation for the class and reservations are required. Participants are asked to bring a sharp knife for cutting. Call the museum at (630) 584-8485, or email at Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. The 374-acre site is a historically intact former 1840s farm and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm museum by volunteers and donors from around the country.