Download: 006_John_Bunker_Rowan_Jacobsen.mp3 [25.6MB, 28:01]
ERIC WEST (Intro): Hello there! Welcome to the Cider Guide Podcast. I am your host Eric West. In this podcast I interview personalities from the wide world of apples and cider, and I think I’ve got a great interview for you this time.
This is Episode 6. There’s been a brief hiatus as I’ve been out in the orchard—like hopefully many of my listeners—picking apples, pressing apples to juice, attending various cider festivals. So I hope you’ll excuse the delay.
In this interview, I am on location at Franklin County CiderDays in Massachusetts. I had the great fortune of talking with both John Bunker and Rowan Jacobsen after their talk on Saturday morning.
John Bunker, he’s an apple expert—one of the US’s most pre-eminent cider experts. He’s based out of Palermo, Maine. There he runs his own heritage apple CSA program called Out on a Limb. He is the found of Fedco Trees, where you can order many different heirloom and cider variety apple trees. He is the driving force behind the Maine Heritage Orchard, where varieties that are indigenous to Maine are being planted, with the hopes of preserving them for future generations. And he’s also the author of Not Far from the Tree, which is a look at the apple and cider culture of Palermo, Maine—and I guess, by extension, of New England and the country as a whole.
And Rowan Jacobsen, he’s the James Beard Award-winning author of A Geography of Oysters and many other great articles and books. I first came across his work in American Terroir. But his most recent book is on apples, it’s called Apples of Uncommon Character. And he’s a very talented writer—food writer, travel writer, talking about the sustainability of our food systems.
So without further ado, this is our talk at CiderDays from November 1st, 2014.
Rowan Jacobsen (L) & John Bunker (R)
ERIC WEST: It’s November 1st. We are at Franklin County CiderDays. And I’m very privileged to have two amazing, amazing authorities with me here.
On my right is John Bunker. You may know him as the founder of Fedco Trees. He is the author of Not Far from the Tree. And on my left is Rowan Jacobsen, also a very talented authority. His latest book is Apples of Uncommon Character.
Guys, thanks for being here with me today.
ROWAN JACOBSEN: Thank you.
JOHN BUNKER: Thank you.
WEST: So John, I’m going to start with you. You guys just did a talk on fruit exploration. And that is something that seems to be very near and dear to your heart. Can you talk us through a little bit about the history of apples in Maine, and why it’s necessary now to go explore for some of that fruit that was once grown in Maine?
BUNKER: Well, it’s a long history. It would have begun before 1600 when fishermen from Europe were fishing off the coast of Maine. Every ship had the apple barrel. So the apple cores, the apple seeds were deposited into the ocean, all over the islands. So off the coast of Maine you find there were orchards very early on, from seed. Planted—either on purpose or inadvertently—by the fishermen from Europe, largely from Portugal. Nobody knows a lot of the details except that we know that there were orchards very early on.