The National Agricultural Library (NAL) will be hosting a roundtable discussion Friday, September 17, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. that will examine and celebrate the apple’s deep roots in American agricultural history.
Dr. Gary Nabhan and Ben Watson, both noted writers and food and farming advocates, will lay the foundation for an afternoon’s exploration of the current state of and future prospects for our dwindling apple varieties.
They will be joined by five of this country’s most talented and committed apple growers -- Nick Botner, Tom Burford, John Bunker, Dan Bussey and Lee Calhoun -- who will apply their collective 200 years of orchard experience to a discussion of apples, touching upon their horticultural, culinary and historic significance and exploring how to restore apple diversity from the orchard to the kitchen.
In conjunction with the roundtable, NAL will have on display reproductions from its impressive Pomological Watercolor Collection.
Parking and admission are free, and the event is open to the public.
Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to NAL-Events@ars.usda.gov and specify if accommodations for a disability are needed.
The event is co-sponsored by the National Agricultural Library and Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT). Questions may be directed to NAL's Special Collections at (301) 504-5876.
Nick Botner is an Oregon orchardist who has the largest private collection of apple varieties in the world. With an estimated three thousand varieties and over six thousand trees, the experienced grower has become known to some as the "Noah of apples" for his drive to collect and preserve unusual apple varieties.
John Bunker tracks down and rescues heirloom apple varieties in New England. His orchard is in Maine, where he leads Fedco Trees, a co-op nursery that sells shrubs and trees.
Tom Burford is an orchard and nursery consultant, specializing in the restoration, re-creation, and design of historic sites and private estates, as well as commercial and backyard orchards. He lectures and conducts seminars and workshops nationwide. In 1997, he discontinued the nursery operation of his company, Burford Brothers at Monroe, Virginia, to devote full time to consulting.
Dan Bussey, apple historian and orchard keeper, has written a book on 14,000 apple varieties scheduled to be published later this year.
He owns a four-acre orchard in Wisconsin
featuring more than 250 apple varieties.
Lee Calhoun, historian, horticulturist, farmer and author, will see the second edition of his landmark 1995 book, Old Southern Apples, published in late 2010. He is a nationally known expert on heirloom southern apples and the former owner of a North Carolina nursery that sold grafted heirloom southern apple trees.
Gary Nabhan is a writer, lecturer, food and farming advocate, rural lifeways folklorist, and conservationist. He recently accepted a tenured professorship as a Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona. He remains involved in Slow Food USA, a grassroots movement that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and environment, and Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT), an alliance of environmental and culinary advocates.
Ben Watson is a longtime Senior Editor for Chelsea Green Publishing and a freelance author and journalist. His books include The Slow Food Guide to New York City (with Patrick Martins and Slow Food USA), Cider, Hard and Sweet, and Taylor's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables. He is currently involved in a Preservation Orchard project and collaborating with Tom Burford on a book about heritage American apples