when i first started saving seeds, i was in awe of the varieties and stories behind the heirloom seeds featured in the seed catalog for seed savers exchange, as well as its directory of those seeds that were being saved seeds across the united states by members. the amount of varieties being saved is remarkable. seeing as seed savers heritage farm was not that far from new forest farm, we figured why not go and check out the farm and see all the plants growing.
the drive took us along the mississippi, when we crossed into iowa we stopped at a park for lunch, where we were able to enjoy an amazing vista.
from the river seed savers was about an hour away. most of the view was of this.
corn fields as far as the eye could see, either cut or in the process of being harvested. ma and i decided we prefered the landscape of wisconsin, she likes looking at cows.
allergies plaguing both of us we had to take it slow deciding that nothing would get the blood pumping quite like shopping. i obtained several packets of tomatoes for next years product line, as well as the aptly named complete book of garlic. it might be among the more overwhelming books i’ve read on a single vegetable in its thoroughness and downright nerdiness.
with a little energy and the promise of cows and apples ma and i were off on a walk, but not before checking out some of the vegetable gardens.
there was this giant swede aka a rutabaga. i couldn’t really find out that much info about it, nor if it was even fit for human consumption. it seemed it might be a fodder crop.
also these gorgeous purple veined collards. i’ve never seen them offered in seed catalogs, but i’m so smitten by them i might have to look into trading for some seed or buying the seed directory in order to find a commercial source.
and then these garden huckleberries – which are supposed to become tastier after a frost, but are still best cooked and with plenty of sugar added to it. i found the taste pretty bland, and rumor has it that they are toxic uncooked. i’ve never found the idea of growing them all that appealing, i prefer fruit i can eat out of hand, but was still happy to have tried them.
but none of this was cows or apples. i certainly hadn’t driven almost 3 hours out of my way for bland huckleberries! it was the taste of heirloom apples that enchanted me. we ventured off in the direction of the orchard, having much trouble finding the orchard but no such trouble finding cows – since ma had not seen a cow in at least two hours helped take off edge of her withdraw from wisconsin.
i practiced my cow speak – which with full disclosure i have to admit was strictly obtained from repeatedly opening and closing the barn door on the fisher price barn as a child. though now that i have gone back and listened to the moos, i have to say that the student has surpassed the teacher, cause when i used my cow calls on these cows they perked up and started walking toward me, which made me really nervous cause i didn’t know what i was saying in cow. i tried to assure them that i only wanted to be friends.
but they mostly seemed interested, not annoyed or angry. but my new-found cow whispering skills didn’t fill my belly with the taste of heirloom apples. and while ma was tired, she was a trooper and after we had already decided to make our way back to the car, she could see my eyes aglow when i found a sign for the orchard. up a big hill, both of us breathing heavy from allergies. at first i thought it was a bust, but didn’t realize that one side was all young trees, and the other side was full of more mature ones.
it was very late in the season, and most of the apples were done, but i still tasted a couple of dozen varieties. on many trees all the apples had fallen off the trees and you had to guess which tree it had fallen from. while i know that apple favors vary tremendously in theory its not that often that you get to experience so much diversity in a such a short period. the few hard cider varieties that i tried were especially interesting – as expected not particularly good for eating out of hand, but you could see how it would be useful to balance out sweet varieties and add depth of flavor.
this especially glorious tree was filled with golden-colored russet apples that tasted wonderful – and wouldn’t you know it no tag was on the tree.
in the far back it seemed as though at one point they planted trees as whips and never replanted them, leaving a dark strange-looking apple forest instead of the usual orchard.
after about an hour of wondering the apple forests and orchards we headed back toward the car, wisconsin, and eventually home.