Our first pick-up is right around the corner, but there’s still time to join the CSA and revel in Maine’s apple splendor. This fall, we’re particularly excited to share the harvest with you because there was such an outstanding fruit set this spring, meaning there will be a some varieties this year that we’ve never featured before. On our farm, there are many varieties that are fruiting for the first time, and other varieties that are finally yielding enough to offer to CSA shareholders. As always, we look forward to introducing you to extraordinary fruit flavors. We hope you’ll join us for yet another fruitful season!
After heroically supplying us with stored produce through the depths of winter, our root cellar has more or less laid abandoned since May. We begin to lose the appetite for our months-old food when the tender spring greens come into season. Though we make an effort to blaze through the remnants by cooking soups, stews, and sauces, there is inevitably some food that sits and sits and sits, as we can’t bear to eat the very last of it, nor bring ourselves to eat any more.
By the time June and July roll around, I am afraid to peek into the cellar, but it so happens that what remains is mostly intact. We actually had near-perfect storage conditions this winter; the deep snow proved to be effective insulation material and amazingly we had very little spoilage and no rodent damage. (They must’ve heard rumors about our vicious cats and decided to move to a different neighborhood.)
We recently dug into the deep recesses of our root cellar and unearthed two of our remaining six Black Oxford apples for a taste test. Despite being in storage for an impressive eight months, the fruits were surprisingly firm and delicious, not puckered and barely edible as they usually would be this time of year. True, they lacked some of the flavor and brilliant deep purple hue of a Black Oxford in its prime (January/February), but this certainly sets our personal record of eating and enjoying a Black Oxford apple this late in the year!
We hereby give this Black Oxford apple the thumbs up on July 19th, 2015.
We are accepting applications for the Out On a Limb Heritage Apple CSA.
We hope you will join us!
2015 is our seventh year, and once again we’ll be offering a wide assortment of endangered, historical and just plain unusual eating and cooking apples, including some that we’ve never offered before.
Why join a Heritage Apple Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program? The idea behind the OOAL CSA is to introduce consumers to the wealth of apples varieties that grow in Maine and at the same time to support small Maine orchards that continue to grow heritage apples. The apples that we offer are not the ones you will find at your local grocery store; they maybe unusually shaped or colored, too tender for shipping, not tasty till winter, loaded with flavor, or best for cooking. Some, like Northern Spy or Baldwin, you might come across at a farm stand if your timing was good, but many of the varieties we offer are not available. Through our connections with growers all over central Maine, we are able to track down the ones that we don’t grow ourselves and deliver them to you when they are best for fresh eating, cooking or storage.
We do this to educate and excite you about apples and also to keep small orchards enthusiastic about growing those few, unusual, old trees that have survived over the years as their orchards were planted over to Macs and Honey Crisps. Many growers don’t even bother to harvest heirloom varieties since their customers want Cortlands and Delicious apples, so they are delighted to have us provide a market for their Charettes, Greenings and Russets. If we keep these growers happy, we hope that they will take good care of their old trees. And to our delight, as the interest heritage apples grows, some of the orchards that we partner with are reversing the trend and starting to top work the modern varieties back to old favorites, such as Black Oxford. How great is that?
How does the Out on a Limb Apple CSA work?
The CSA distribution takes place every other week from the second week of September to the first week of November. There are five deliveries in total.
What kinds of apples will I be getting?
Over the course of the season you’ll receive 20 or more varieties of rare and highly flavored apples with a wide range of uses, appearances, histories and flavors. In each delivery you will receive a mix of dessert apples (for eating fresh) and culinary apples. We will make sure you have enough of the culinary varieties to cook up into a dish.
How many apples will I be getting?
You will get approximately 1/4 bushel of apples at each pickup (about 10-12 lbs). Each variety will be in a labeled bag. Please bring along your own tote bag or box in which to put the various smaller bags.
How will I learn about the varieties I receive?
We have an online newsletter that has descriptions, history, and lore about each of the varieties that you will receive, as well as recipes and ideas for how best to use them.
Are the apples organic?
The apples that we provide come from our farm as well as from other local orchards. Some varieties are organically grown, and others are conventionally grown with IPM.
What if I want additional apples?
Throughout the season we are able to offer larger quantities of some of the apples. When extra apples are available, we will send you an email to let you know. If you’d like to have a half-bushel or bushel of a particular apple to store or preserve, you can order them to be delivered at your next pick-up.
When and Where do I pick up my order?
Belfast: Tuesday at the UU Church, 37 Miller Street, 4-6pm
Freedom: Tuesday at Village Farm, Rt. 137, 4-6pm
Mt Desert: at Beech Hill Farm, 171 Beech Hill Rd., Thursdays 1-4pm, Fridays 9am-4pm
Palermo: at Super Chilly Farm, Tuesday 4-6pm or Wednesday, 10am-6pm
Portland: Wednesdays at Foodworks, 59 India St., 10am-3pm, or at 14 Florence St., 2:30-6pm
In late August/early September we will send you an email to confirm the pick-up locations and times.
Don’t live near one of our pick-up sites? We have groups forming in Hallowell, Damariscotta, Ellsworth, Deer Isle and Brunswick to share the driving of pickups from Palermo, Belfast and Portland. If you are interested in joining one of these or setting up groups in your area, please let us know and we can connect you with others who may be interested as well.
How much does it cost?
The CSA costs $150 for the season. Full payment is due when you sign up.
How do I sign up?
Send your check made out to “Out On a Limb Apple CSA” to:
Please include your name, snail mail address, phone #, email address and pick-up location with your check.
Shares are limited and enrollment is on a first come, first served basis.
Can I get apples mailed to me?
We have lots of requests to mail apples out of state. While many orchards are happy and able to do this, we do not ship our apples through the mail. The reason for this is twofold. First, the apple varieties that we select for our CSA are chosen for their flavor, not their ability to withstand the rigors of our postal system. We can’t guarantee that our apples will arrive to you in NY or CA looking as tasty and beautiful as when we picked them. Secondly, we encourage you to seek out unusual apples that grow in your area. Visit the small orchards near you, and ask the growers what old varieties they offer. Take the time to look beyond the Honey Crisp, and you will probably find some surprises that are unique to your area of the country. We’d love to hear what you discover.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
Are you having trouble finding interesting apples in your local grocery store or farm stand? Now you can plant your favorite heritage varieties in your backyard, community garden, neighborhood green space or local schoolyard and help preserve Maine’s agricultural heritage at the same time. The Maine Heritage Orchard Stewardship Program disperses “back-ups” of all the rare varieties in the Heritage Orchard to “stewards” across the state who want to restore local varieties to their community. Not only will the trees provide tasty fruit for you, your community and future generations, but they will also serve as grafting wood for propagating more trees if something happens to the specimen in the Maine Heritage Orchard.
Become a steward and help put Maine’s heirloom apples back into Maine’s communities! You can join the program and purchase these apple trees through the Fedco Trees catalog. Sixty percent of the purchase price of each tree helps fund the Mane Heritage Orchard. For more information on the stewardship program, see page 19 of the 2015 Fedco Trees catalog or visit http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear John speak about apples in person, you might enjoy listening to this radio interview that aired last week on WPKN’s show The Organic Farmstand. John talks about how apples first got to North America, the basic botany of tree fruit, and the historical uses of apples. He even shares a few stories of how he got started on his journey to track down and preserve old varieties.
Here is the link to the interview: http://archives.wpkn.org/bookmarks/listen/89417
If the interview whets your appetite to learn more about apples, check out John’s book, Not Far From the Tree, which continues the story. It’s available at: https://outonalimbcsa.wordpress.com/goodies/