Welcome to Sandpoint Orchard!
Over 15,000 different varieties of apples have been named in North America alone since Colonial Times, of these only around 3,000 remain in production today. Although 3,000 different varieties of apples seems like more than enough, only eleven of these varieties make up 90% of commercially grown apples. Few people know of the robust flavor and beautiful pink and white flesh of the Strawberry Parfait apple or the crisp taste of a Newtown Pippin, the first production apple bred in North America in 1759, which also happened to be George Washington’s favorite dessert apple. As these varieties fall from commercial production there is the imminent threat that they may be lost forever.
The Inland Northwest has a very unique climate that plays a large role in determining what crops and, most importantly, which varieties of those crops will do well in an average year. Sandpoint Orchard’s mission is to use our wide varieties of apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees to determine which are best suited to our specific microclimate. Currently, the orchard contains 68 different varieties of apples, most of which are heirloom varieties that are grown in only a handful of orchards across the United States. In experimenting with these widely unknown varieties, we are determining which are best suited for the Inland Northwest, as well as helping to preserve the rapidly disappearing history of this fruit.
In working to create a local food system, Sandpoint Orchard produce will be marketed locally. This will give our community the opportunity to taste the extraordinarily wide array of varieties that grow in our climate, while also cutting down on ‘food miles’ and energy use. Along with reducing the energy and emissions, buying locally grown produce also guarantees that you will get to enjoy truly fresh fruit. In the era of modern agriculture, commercially grown apples are often stored in “Controlled Atmosphere” coolers in which oxygen is replaced with high nitrogen concentrations to extend the storage life of the fruit. This means the apples you buy at the local grocer may be up to twelve months old! At Sandpoint Orchard, you will be able to experience what fresh, organic, and local really mean.
The Sandpoint Orchard will work to disperse educational materials to our immediate community, as well as surrounding communities in the Inland Northwest, informing them of which fruit tree varieties are best suited to our climate. In working in partnership with the University of Idaho, we hope to familiarize the next generation of farmers, orchardists, and home gardeners of the benefits inherent in organic production, as well as the importance of a local food system. We will also work to educate community members on the wide varieties of apples available today and of the alarming rate at which they are disappearing from our landscape.
Fruit pictures and descriptions courtesy of Trees of Antiquity