Along the northern edge of Chapel Field at Restoration Farm, a collection of new apple trees has recently been planted. The trees are young – mere twigs – but they have enormous potential.
The line of eight trees is named “Apple Trace.” The word “trace” is not used too often in this context. It is a rustic descriptor, but seems appropriate for Restoration Farm and the purpose of these trees. A “trace” is defined as a visible mark, such as a footprint made or left by the passage of a person, animal or thing. It is evidence or an indication of the former presence or existence of something.
There are some intriguing heirloom varieties found at Apple Trace. Ashmeade's Kernel was first grown from a seed planted by a physician named Dr. Ashmead in Gloucester, England at the turn of the 18th century. The fruit is eaten fresh or pressed for juice. Black Oxford can be traced to a seedling planted in Paris, Maine in 1790. The fruit is used for applesauce and baked desserts. Cortland was bred in 1898 in Geneva, New York and has a pure white flesh that is good for salads. Golden Russet is believed to have come from a mid-nineteenth century New York state seedling and is considered an excellent cider apple.
Honeycrisp has a delicious crunch, and was developed in Minnesota in the 1960s. Newtown Pippin is a Long Island native, first grown as a seedling in Queens, New York and harvested in 1730. It was a favorite of George Washington and grown at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and works well in tarts and pies. Prairie Spy was developed in Minnesota and raised from seeds planted in 1914. It is a crisp, juicy, full-flavored eating apple. Winesap is an excellent storage apple and probably dates back to the 18th century.
Apple Trace is planted in memory of my Dad, James M. Barritt, Jr. who passed away on January 10, 2012. My Dad loved apples and ate one every day for lunch. But, he also played an important part in my involvement at Restoration Farm. My Dad and Mom first brought my brothers and me to Old Bethpage Village Restoration when we were young and we would visit often as a family – long before Restoration Farm was cultivated on the same land.
Once I became a member at the farm, we would visit together. One of my favorite photos of my parents is a picture taken at the Restoration Farm Summer Solstice potluck dinner in the field in 2010. It was a gorgeous summer afternoon and they look so happy. So my memories of my parents and my association with Restoration Farm are always entwined. It seems fitting that we plant Apple Trace to honor my Dad at a place where I still visit so frequently and where he once planted seeds of appreciation for history, the land and farming within me.
I am grateful to head growers Caroline Fanning and Dan Holmes who were so supportive of this planting in memory of my father, and to Glenn Aldridge who planted many of the apple trees with such care. I look forward to the years to come when Apple Trace will bear fruit and my Dad’s spirit will be celebrated with beautiful apples shared with the community of members at Restoration Farm.