News from Garfield Farm
CAMPTON HILLS, IL: Learn how to grow your own antique apple trees at Garfield Farm Museum‚s 24th annual Antique Apple Tree Grafting Seminar on Sunday, March 6 at 1:30 pm. For $30, participants take home 3 grafts of heirloom varieties to plant in the spring. Garfield Farm is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apple tree expert Dan Bussey leads the seminar and will bring several different varieties of scions from his orchard in Edgerton, WI, where he propagates more than 350 rare and endangered varieties.
With the great interest in knowing where one's food originates, planting an apple tree in the backyard can't get any more local. Although one must be patient for several years before one sees the first apple, the results are hard to duplicate with the generic store varieties that have been bred for appearance, ability to survive early picking, and shipping across country or half the world.
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 may 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. The grafting process itself has been used for thousands of years. The process itself is relatively simple. A small branch or "scion" of the desired tree is attached to a small rootstock. The root used for the seminar is a smaller, dwarf variety that is good for a backyard or small orchard.
Different varieties of apples are good for various things. For instance some are better for cider, while others may be better for baking. 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 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 has been the instructor of the seminar since its inception over twenty three years ago. His efforts have been recognized by the Seed Saver's Exchange of Decorah, IA, which had its own conservation orchard of heritage apple varieties. Mr. Bussey will bring scions to graft to root stock that is raised especially for grafting. He can also instruct participants on how to care for their grafts until they are planted. If time allows, the group will go out to the museum's orchard and be given instruction on pruning their trees once they are established.
There is a $30 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 email@example.com. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. The 370-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.