FRUIT FELLOWSHIP: links to the wide world of pomology
From ancient times, the quest for better fruit varieties has been a communal effort involving a legion of unnamed champions. Continuity - the transmission of both knowledge and scionwood from generation to generation of humanity - has been a crucial aspect of this progression. Another critical element involves the exchange of varieties between geographically distant regions. This has enabled the advanced guard of fruit growers to push the varietal envelope into new territory.
While government agencies and research universities now take responsibility for maintaining and improving our fruit variety heritage, amateur orchard enthusiasts still play a significant role in this work. And as bureaucratic budgets tighten, this informal network of private variety collectors can provide a fail-safe repository for endangered germplasm.
Since its founding in 1967, NAFEX has established itslef as the premier organization for non-commercial fruit gardeners in the U.S. and Canada. Membership in NAFEX brings a subscription to POMONA, a quarterly journal that assembles articles written by member contributors as well as access to many valuiable resources. These include a lending library, expert consulting staff, on-line forum and some regional chapters.
The idea for NAFEX was borrowed from a Portland Oregon fruit hobbyist club that called itself the Northwest Fruit Explorers. When its leader Milo Gibson decided to shift his focus from local to global, some of his old comrades decided to transform their group into the Home Orchard Socity, a hands-on organization that serves Oregon fruit enthusiasts.
Because of its regional focus, HOS features activities that bring members together for workshops, fruit tastings, and scionwood exchanges. Folks getting started with fruit gardeningbshould benefit from this unique opportunity to learn skills like grafting firthand from HOS experts.
California is a very large state with a diverse range of topography and climate. An amazing list of fruit species - including temperate, sub-tropical and tropical - can be grown here: but almost never in the same place. So fruit growers in Southern California may struggle to grow ordinary temperate sorts (eg. apples and cherries) because of insufficient winter chill, while up North lemons, kiwis, and even figs might pose a daunting challenge.
With its regional chapters and a staff of consultants, CRFG helps its members "push the envelope" of fruit adaptation. And its handsome quarterly journal Fruit Gardener makes a very informative and pleasant read. Fruit gardeners in other parts of the country - particularly places where sub-tropical species are feasible - may benefit from CRFG's unique resources.
For centuries, the British have passionately celebrated their extraordinary fruit variety heritage. The National Fruit Collection (NFC) is presently located at Brogdale Farm in Kent where more than 3,500 fruit and nut cultivars are grown and preserved for posterity. Included in this repository collection are some 2,500 different apples.
The British government collaborates with the University of Reading to provide a number of NFC-related activities and resources for the public. Especially useful is the collection's website, featuring a searchable database that posts descriptive information with photographs for almost all its varieties. This represents an invaluable tool for the serious fruit enthusiast and can help document European fruit that remains virtually unknown here in the U.S.
Another informative reference from Great Britain is the Orange Pippin website which bills itself as "the comprehensive resource for apples and orchards." This site includes a database with descriptions (often with photographs) for 231 apple varieties. It also presents articles, forums, and links relating to apple cultivation.
The Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC) at Mount Vernon has pioneered in appple cider variety testing and production since 1978. In addition to organizing workshops and "cider school", they publish the results of their research program on their website. The site even contains some information on those elusive perry pears.
Mr. Lea is probably the most respected authority on the art and science of apple cider making in Great Britain. His website serves as the center of the "craft cider" revival movement and includes a workshop discussion group as well as numerous articles on the subject. This site stands out as an indispensable resource for committed (i.e. "hard") cider boffins.
Roses: Master List
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