All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Thursday, May 08, 2008

John Bunker, Pomologist

The Atlantic has an article on pomologist John Bunker of Palermo.
His vocation arrived in a bushel basket, when he was managing a food cooperative in the town of Belfast. A man named Ira Proctor walked in one day to ask if the co-op would sell some of his apples on consignment. Bunker had never seen their like: apples the shape of a perfect McIntosh (a variety widely planted in Maine only after a calamitous freeze killed more than a million trees in 1934) but colored a lustrous dark cordovan, purple-black with firm, cream-colored flesh. The flavor was refreshing, smooth, and all apple—not cloying and mealy, as Macs can be, and not firm and juicy but as flavorful as cardboard, like Red Delicious. It was not a sour “quick spitter,” as Maine farmers call many apples, nor light-flavored with faint hints of pineapple and banana, like many of the heirlooms Bunker had encountered in his wanderings. This was a great apple, and a very beautiful one besides. The name was Black Oxford, Proctor told him, for the county where it grew: it originated in Paris, Maine, around 1790. Bunker took them all, and resolved to grow some for himself. [Link]
[Photo credit: IMG_0339 by fantomdesigns]

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