Creating the Orchard

Creating the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard

The apple orchard at Horne Creek Farm, established in 1997, is the only state-supported orchard in the nation dedicated to the preservation of old apple varieties of southern origin.  Situated on a seven-acre field, the orchard supports 800 trees: two each of 400 different varieties.

Founded through the joint efforts of the North Carolina Living Historical Farm Committee (NCLHFC), Horne Creek Farm staff, and orchardist Lee Calhoun, the apple orchard has grown in that time from an idea to a flourishing accomplishment.  In 1998, initial work began on the orchard thanks to a $50,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and funds provided by NCLHFC.  Workers first cleared the land, prepared the soil, and planted grass.  They dug a deep well and built a well house.  After laying a gravel road through the orchard, they erected an eight-foot tall deer fence around the perimeter and installed a drip irrigation system.  Finally it was time to plant the trees.

The orchard received its first two hundred trees in 1999.  Over the following three years site staff and volunteers planted six hundred more trees.  There are two trees of each apple variety in the orchard.  One tree is a free standing semi-dwarf which grows to a maximum height of twelve to sixteen feet.  These trees typically live up to fifty years. The other tree is an espaliered dwarf variety.  These smaller trees typically live up to thirty years.  Visit the apple index for a full listing of varieties in the orchard.

Why Horne Creek?

The history of the Hauser farm is similar to many others scattered across the state – fields were plowed; droughts were endured; crops were harvested. It wasn’t the birthplace of a famous person. A battle was never fought on its soil. What makes the Hauser farm especially suitable as the location for a farm museum?  There were many reasons:

 

  • Of the farms surveyed, it was one of the best preserved examples of a late 19th/early 20th century middle class farm in NC.

 

  • The land was intact and already owned and protected by the state as a part of Pilot Mountain State Park. Modern development around the site would be minimal.

 

  • It is conveniently located just off of major highways, interstates, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.