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Trees of Antiquity has been growing and shipping organic fruit trees across the country for over 40 years from our heirloom fruit tree nursery. Our fruit tree nursery, specializing in certified organic heirloom apple trees, is very much a family effort; we plant, graft, prune, weed, water and harvest our trees with only a bit of outstanding seasonal assistance. As winter approaches, our labors meander away from the open field and into the office. We turn our attention toward the tools indoors in order to prepare for our annual winter send off of our precious heirloom fruit trees. We’re excited to share our bounty of bareroot fruit trees which are a reflection of our labors throughout the last two seasons. As always, our fruit tree nursery is centered on the apple trees rich history and future discoveries our heirloom apples reveal through the years. We continue to discover the unique flavors, textures and lore that surround our heirloom fruit trees and look forward to extending this experience to your home.
Two decades ago, there was a passing of the torch at the nursery. We were obedient apprentices under the tutelage of Terry and Carolyn Harrison, the founders of Sonoma Antique Apple Nursery. We dug trenches, painted barns, built chicken coops, filled potholes, cut firewood, and learned a few tricks along the way about grafting fruit trees. Fortunately, the job we enjoyed most was the one they have passed over to our care: organic fruit tree propagation. The pedestrian tasks are easily mastered, but the real lessons were learned simply by watching the determination and dedication Terry and Carolyn applied to their work at home and the local community. Not only have they provided the greater community with thousands of fruit trees for 20 years, they have been active citizens participating in the local and regional level working to preserve considerably more than heirloom apples. Terry and Carolyn continue to farm flower seeds and their cherished orchard. Working with Terry and Carolyn Harrison was a deeply rewarding experience that provided innumerable lessons in perseverance, humility, and laughter.
The common supermarket varieties appeal to commercial growers because they need fruit that ripens all at once, doesn’t bruise easily, grows high yields, ships and stores for extended lengths of time, and sits on the shelf without a blemish. Flavor is often a secondary consideration. These requirements are essential for commercial growers to meet because consumers have come to expect visually homogeneous fruit. This demand eliminates our cherished trees’ unique qualities like the Ashmeads Kernel’s shy bearing nature and russeted skin, or the diminutive, but uniquely sweet and pronounced tang of the Wickson apple. Our heirloom and traditional fruit trees exist thanks in great part to the home gardeners who continue to explore beyond the store shelves in search of a treasured trait that has eluded many of our supermarket aisles. We encourage everyone to maintain this search and share in the revival of these relics from the past. It’s a unique experience to bite into a fruit that explodes with a complexity of sweetness chased with a dash of tartness. What a delight to realize, after savoring this discovery, that this is one of thousands of flavors waiting to be rediscovered. We offer a small peek into a vast world of treasured sweets long forgotten, but still on the map. We provide the directions to rediscovering what is truly at the heart of us all: our food.
Our commitment to growing certified organic fruit trees began as a small seed planted in the soul of a young boy, Neil Collins, playing in his backyard which was the coastal hills of California. Years later, his desire to preserve these fertile areas blossomed into Trees of Antiquity, a small business run by Neil Collins and his wife Danielle. We believe our farming methods reflect our commitment to finding new ways to live and work with the land. The apple trees are at the center of our nursery, but the soil is the body that contains the heart of the trees. Our organic growing methods require a five year crop rotation to prevent the build up of pathogens in the soil. We plant permanent hedgerows of native plants, fruit trees and annual flowers to attract a diverse population of beneficial insects, reptiles, birds, amphibians and small mammals. Fallow nursery blocks are planted with green manure crops in combination with compost to reduce soil erosion and return organic matter to the soil allowing the diverse population of bacteria, fungi, micro and macro fauna to thrive. Lastly, through our ambivalent relationship to the plants that have followed our agrarian path, the weeds, we have become quite skilled in our hand hoeing techniques! This traditional method of growing trees provides our workers, families, neighbors, flora and fauna a work place and home that has not been soiled with problems that our children will have to solve. We are careful not to compromise tomorrow’s needs for today’s desire. Ultimately, our success relies on the support of our customer. We believe our fruit trees are a simple gesture of our commitment to you to provide answers today on the best method for long term growth and prosperity for our trees, homes and communities.
Enjoy, Annabelle, Danielle and Neil Collins