The Orchard Today

The Southern Heritage Apple Orchard was established in 1997 and is dedicated to preserving old apple varieties which once were so important to Southern farm families. The orchard tells the story of southern apples through demonstrations and workshops which help preserve part of this apple heritage.  The creation of this orchard would not have been possible without the help of Lee Calhoun.  Mr. Calhoun was an agronomist, heritage apple preservationist, and author of the book Old Southern Apples

Starting in the 1980s, Mr. Calhoun and his wife Edith would drive country roads looking for old apple trees growing in peoples' yards.  When he spotted a tree, he would knock on the owner's door, explain that he was collecting old southern apple varieties, and ask if he could cut a twig.  In this way, he amassed a sizeable collection of heritage trees, some of which had been presumed lost.  In the 1990s, Horne Creek Farm contacted Mr. Calhoun asking for his help in creating a heritage apple orchard.  He agreed and the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard was born.

The 850 trees planted in the heritage orchard preserve 425 different southern apple varieities which were on the brink of extinction. Two trees are planted for each apple variety. One is a freestanding semi-dwarf tree with a mature height of about 12 feet.  These semi-dwarf trees will produce up to 4 bushels of apples per tree.  The second tree is a spare, or reserve, tree used to recover a larger tree in the event it is lost. The second tree is a dwarf tree trained on a wire trellis, using a pruning system called espalier. The height of the mature espalier tree is approximately 6 feet, and it will produce about a half-bushel of apples per tree.

The trees largely bloom in April and, depending on the variety, are harvested starting in June with such varieties as Red June, Early Harvest, and June Sweeting. The orchard continues to bear fruit until late October or early November when Royal Limbertwig, Winesap, and Kinnaird's Choice are harvested.