The Forgotten Orchard
In the midst of a beautiful western New York fall, my husband and I were out for a hike, when I suddenly announced that I was hungry and wished I had brought a snack. Moments later we rounded a bend in the trail and entered what can only be described as a magnificent “hall of apples.” Hundreds of ancient apple trees lined both sides of the trail, continuing into the depths of the forest. We started to sample some of the best apples we had ever tasted—some were tart, some were sweet, and some would have been perfect for making cider. Returning to this place the next day, we collected nature’s bounty, making sure to only take what we needed.
These apples were processed with care and slowly cooked for days to make an old-fashioned apple butter with the flavors of a bygone era. It turns out that the orchard we stumbled upon was part of a farm that was abandoned during the Great Depression, eventually becoming state land. This experience inspired us to create an edition of small books to accompany the jars of apple butter. The cover features a linocut on handmade paper, and a sonnet is written on the interior pages with handmade black walnut ink, using a vintage dip pen. We also provided GPS coordinates and a map so that adventurous readers could find this forgotten orchard. When gifting the apple butter to friends and family, we hoped that the flavors of history would dance across their palates, and that they would think of the trees. Although the orchards were abandoned, the trees would not be forgotten.