POMEROY — The planting of apple orchards in the Ohio Valley has a long tradition, beginning in the late 1700’s.
On Saturday, the tradition will continue with the planting of 28 apple trees at a park in Pomeroy.
According to Pomeroy Mayor Don Anderson, the trees will be planted in the vacant lot beside the Skate Park on Mechanic Street. Council had been considering ideas for use of the lot during discussions about raised gardens with the Meigs County Farmers’ Market.
The raised gardens under discussion will be community gardens, and that led to the idea of a community orchard.
“We wanted to do something with that space that would enhance the park, and trees seemed like an appropriate addition,” Anderson said. “So we decided on apple trees, and to make it a community orchard.”
Anderson purchased the trees using funds allocated for Pomeroy Parks and Recreation from Bob’s Market in Mason. He said the trees, already a good price with it being the end of the planting season, were offered for the project at an additional discount.
“So I purchased 28 apple trees of different varieties for the space,” Anderson said. “We have already marked the spaces for the trees with flags, and will begin the planting Saturday.”
Anderson added they would be assisted by the Big Bend Beardsmen, Farmer’s Market board members, the Pomeroy Fire Department, and well as “anyone else who would like to volunteer.”
“It is a pleasure to see the community taking an interest in Pomeroy. The Farmers’ Market, the Beardsmen, the merchants, (village) council, volunteers, everyone is working together-how much better everything is when everyone comes together, everyone is really benefiting,” said Anderson.
Facts about apples in the Ohio Valley:
– The origins of the apple are traced to Kazakhstan, the home of the apple forests. From the region they spread through the Middle East and into Europe.
– The science of apple growing is called pomology.
– Only the crabapple tree is indigenous to North American.
– Many historians cite 1607 and Jamestown, Virginia, as the locating where North American apple cultivation began. Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony planted Apple trees from seeds, sometime after their arrival in 1628. Records show plantings in in Maryland, 1634 and North Carolina, 1666.
– General Israel Putnam established a farm, later referred to as “Putnam Orchards” in Connecticut around 1739, where he raised apples taken from stock in Massachusetts. Elisha Putnam, father of Marietta, Ohio, founder Rufus Putnam was his cousin.
– His son Colonel Israel Putnam moved from Connecticut to Marietta, Ohio with his son Aaron Waldo Putnam, and in 1795 received “apple scions” from the Putnam Orchards. He settled alongside Colonel Joseph Barker, who had also begun orchards using stock from the Putnam Orchards.
– According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a scion is a living portion of a plant (such as a bud or shoot) that is detached and joined to a stock in grafting.
– The Putnam’s brought more apple trees from Connecticut to the area in 1804 and eventually established a nursery in Belpre, Ohio.
– The origin of apples grown in the Ohio Valley through the 1800s can be traced directly to Putnam’s original trees.
– Jonathan Chapman, aka ”Johnny Appleseed,” is credited with bringing apple trees to Ohio around 1801. Although usually seen as the first and most prolific to do so, he spent his time in what I now Northern Ohio, and probably never visited the Ohio Valley.
– By the 19th century, there were around 14,000 distinct varieties grown in the United States of all shapes and sizes, some with rough, sandpapery skin, others as misshapen as potatoes, and ranging from the size of a cherry to bigger than a grapefruit in an array of colors.
– By contrast today there are about 90 varieties in commercial production.
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