How many varieties of apples can you name? 5, 10, 25, 100. What about 1,5000? You may ask does that many actually exist. The answer is yes. That is the number of varieties that you will find at Eastman's Antique Apples in Wheeler, Michigan. Talk about selection. You have varieties originating all over the world from different time periods. It's kind of like a walk through a museum. An orchard like this just had to be featured in the next issue of my e-magazine series "Fruits of Their Labor". Today I will give you a preview of what is to come in that article.
One of the biggest questions I had about this orchard is how in the world can you keep track of all these varieties. Originally all the information was hand written. Some of the papers they were unable to read, so about 200 trees they don't know for sure what they are. The rest have now been entered in a spreadsheet with number and row information. They have also put tags on the trees to identify the variety, although the tags can hard to find sometimes when the trees are loaded with apples.
There are two types of apples here that you typically find in most orchards. They have many varieties of crap apples. Some of them are so small, they would never even think of picking them. They have ones that are larger that they do pick and use for their hard apple cider. They also have quite the collection of red fleshed apples. The actual flesh of the apples is various shades of red. These are great for the cider as they give it an amazing color.
Here are some photos of their crap apples. One of them is so dark, it's almost black!
Here is a picture of a Hidden Rose apple (see my variety review). This is a red flesh variety.
This picture features their "nursery" where they have their young trees growing. More red flesh varieties for cider production.
Kandil Sinap is a Turkish apple with a very unique shape. It's tall and slender.
For many of the people that help to run this orchard, this is their second job. Their hours are limited to Saturdays from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. You can also find them selling their apples at the Midland Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. They bring a different mix of varieties every week - how exciting! There are also ½ bushel bags of apples that you can buy of mixed varieties (like in the photo above). Also if you are lucky enough to be in the Ann Arbor area (hey, that's where I live!) you can buy some of their apples at the Produce Station. For more information on Eastman's Antique Apples, visit their website or facebook page.
Here a few more pictures from the orchard for your enjoyment. Look at all the beautiful colors featured in this orchard. See more in Issue 2 of Fruits of Their Labor, coming soon!