Fall Fruit Show
When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 31
Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
Cost: Admission is a suggested donation of $3 per person or $5 per family.
More info: Call 681-3036 or e-mail OlympicOrchardSoc@gmail.com.
by ALANA LINDEROTH
Heritage fruit trees found thriving within the area, including deep reaches of the Olympic National Park, are providing insight into the area’s past.
Through their efforts to find, collect and preserve genes from local orchards dating back to the turn of the century, members of the Olympic Orchard Society are beginning to piece together historic hints of Clallam County and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
“We’re largely finding cider apples,” Jim House, Olympic Orchard Society president, said. “This tells us people then were mostly using apples to make something to drink through the winter.”
But, exploring heritage orchards and taking the scionwood (a shoot of a tree collected for grafting) to rebuild the gene pool of local, historic fruit tree varieties is only one aspect of what the Olympic Orchard Society does.
“Education is really the priority of our club,” House said.
Stemming from the society’s interest in education, members are preparing to host their Fall Fruit Show, Saturday, Oct. 31.
“It’s a really fun, family friendly event,” said Marilyn Couture, Olympic Orchard Society secretary and chairman of the fruit show. “Children love to taste and see all the different kinds of fruit.”
Couture anticipates about 100 fruit varieties known to prosper in this region to be on display, including apples, pears, Asian pears, kiwis and quinces. Of those varieties, a wide array will be available for tasting, she said. If, for example, a particular type of apple is one an individual specially enjoys, they’ll be able to place a custom grafted tree order.
For those unfamiliar with grafting and proper pruning techniques, Gordon Clark of Clark Horticulture will be conducting demonstrations.
“Grafting is used to get desirable characteristics and a specific variety,” House said.
If you plant an apple seed from a specific variety, it’s extremely unlikely that the tree grown will produce the same type of fruit, House explained. Thus grafting instead of growing a tree from seed ensures both the variety and its associated characteristics.
“Apple seeds contain many, many genes,” he said.
Other demonstrations include an iodine test to determine apple ripeness, cider pressing, a pollination presentation by Mark Urnes, North Olympic Peninsula Beekeepers education and beekeeper trustee and Master Gardeners will share their knowledge on fertilizing, care and disease.
At 11 a.m., Bob Norton, a longtime professor specializing in plant physiology and founder of Vashon Island Fruit Club, will speak on stone fruit rootstock and interstem compatibility. Plant pathologist Joseph Postman with the United States Department of Agriculture Clonal Germplasm Repository will follow Norton at 1 p.m., with a discussion on heritage pear trees, disease control and practical information.
“We always try to provide a wide range of speakers and bring a deeper understanding of what varieties do well here,” House said.
Given the wide breadth of fruit tree and small fruit varieties, also fostered by the Olympic Orchard Society, the focus of the show is narrowed geographically.
“There are more than 5,000 known apple varieties, so at the show we really try to highlight the varieties that do well here in our cooler climate,” Couture said. “A lot of people flock to the ID station.”
People are encouraged to bring their mystery apples, as Joanie Cooper and Shaun Shepherd of the Home Orchard Society in Portland, Ore., assisted by Lori Brakken of Seattle and Jean Williams of Bremerton, will provide their apple identification expertise throughout the show.
To help with the identification process, House and Couture recommend bringing three to five apples from each tree of interest and the more details provided on the tree, like its age, the better.
Fitting for a fall fruit show, both coffee and apple cider will be on hand, as well as a tree sale.
The Olympic Orchard Society alternates hosting the annual Fall Fruit Show with the Jefferson County-based fruit club, the North Olympic Fruit Club. Both clubs operate under the Western Cascade Fruit Society.
For more information call 681-3036, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wcfs.org.