“The Carolina Mountains are, by nature, one of the best fruit regions in eastern America. Apples, grapes, and berries, especially, thrive exceedingly well.” ~Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders, 1913. pp 38
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
[audio:http://dh.wcu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Apple-60-mix.mp3|titles=Apple 60 mix]
Essay by Timothy N. Osment, History M.A., WCU 2008
Apples are a traditional and valuable part of our heritage in North Carolina. The most popular varieties nationwide–Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala–are grown here. In the western part of the
In step with other regional festivals, thousands of visitors attend to enjoy music, food, displays, and native crafts. Like many industries in Western North Carolina, apple growing has struggled to keep up with modern technology and outside competition. In the past most of the apples grown in the region were processed, producing items like apple juice and applesauce. However, with the increasing number of tourists, residents, and retail outlets, many apples are now sold through fresh-market channels.
In Southern Appalachia, the cool nights of late August and early September signal the end of summer, the return of the school year and, for many farmers, the approaching apple harvest. For generations, apples have been highly valued by residents of the region. In the 19th century, fruit trees were found on most family farms, adding diversity to mountain agriculture.
Nationally, North Carolina consistently ranks among the top ten apple-producing states, with over 200 commercial orchards growing apples on over 10,000 acres. The approximately 150 million pounds of apples grown in these orchards contribute almost $20 million to the local economy. Apples are grown commercially in four regions of North Carolina, all in the western part of the state. The largest producing region, around Henderson County, contributes 70-80% of the state’s crop. Here,
An apple a day …
Apples are high in pectin and
There are many, in fact, thousands, of apple varieties. In western North Carolina, the Rome Beauty variety is the
One of the largest and oldest festivals in the state is held every Labor Day weekend in Hendersonville: the North Carolina Apple Festival. In 2006, it will mark its 60th consecutive year. Held primarily to recognize the apple and importance of the apple industry, it transforms the downtown area into eight city blocks filled with music, food, crafts, and vendors. On the last day of the festival, the celebration culminates with the King Apple Parade followed by a community street dance.
Other popular, apple-themed destinations include The Orchard at Altapass, Barber Orchard Fruit Stand, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, and the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. Visit the links below for additional activities and information.
The fact that Johnny Appleseed never visited Southern Appalachia does not diminish the impact apples have had on mountain culture for well over 100 years. Beginning as sustenance for early European settlers, to providing a livelihood for thousands of farmworkers, to their importance within local tourism, apples are a valuable and traditional part of our Mountain Heritage.
This essay was based on information provided by North Carolina State University, the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, the Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association, and the NC Apple Festival.
Photographs by Judy Carson of the Historic Orchard at Altapass http://www.altapassorchard.com
For more information
- Old Southern Apples, Creighton Calhoun, 1995.
- North Carolina Agriculture: Our Heritage, York Kiker, 1982.
- North Carolina: From the Mountains to the Sea, The North Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents, 1988.
- 2009 Cashiers Apple Festival
- Western NC Apple Orchard Listings for Apple Journal.com
- Crop Profile for Apples in North Carolina
- Apple Facts from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Western NC farm listings at Pick Your Own.org
- Hendersonville, NC Apple Orchards
- North Carolina Apple Festival