The core of the matter: an apple ending
Our apple adventure ends today - here on your screen, and on the radio. And the way I see it, if you spend some time with orchard manager Ezekiel Goodband among the heirloom apples at Scott Farm, you’ll never look at (or taste) this fruit quite the same way. (In case you’re wondering, that red, dewy apple in the photo up top is a Cortland. The green/pink luminescent apples in the bin are Holsteins.)
Goodband grows 100 historic varieties in all, and they have music in their names: Ananas Reinette, Winter Banana, Hidden Rose, Pitmaston Pineapple, Chenango Strawberry, Opalescent. When I asked him to tick through the names on tape, he started with Red Astrakhan and by the time he got to Jonagold it had taken him a full minute and a half, nonstop. (And he’d only gotten through half the varieties he grows!) Walking through the orchard, he kept showing me different trees and saying, like a proud parent, “this is my favorite apple!” before admitting, “I have maybe 100 favorites here.” (My personal favorite based on beauty alone: Winter Banana— half golden, half pink, glowing on the trees as if lit from within.)
Goodband sees himself as the shepherd of these trees, and it’s year-round hard work: grafting cuttings onto root stock, pruning all winter, bringing in beehives for pollination in the spring, keeping an eye out for disease and critters. Hard work, but you can tell by the gleam in his eye that he adores doing what he does. And his “office” is an apple orchard! Can’t beat that.
At 61, Goodband is looking for the next shepherd for this “flock”: someone younger who wants to learn the craft and will love these trees and historic apples as much as he clearly does.
Our radio story airs today (Friday) on All Things Considered.
Updated: Link to the audio is now up here: