7/24 Rare Fruit Trees Sale The California Rare Fruit Growers

Rare Fruit Trees Sale –Open to Public

The California Rare Fruit Growers garden club is having their annual Fruit Tree Sale, Saturday July 24th , 9AM to Noon-or-so at the Veteran’s Building across from the County Fairgrounds on HWY 12 just east of HWY 101 in Santa Rosa, as guests of the weekly Farmer’s Market.
(1351 Maple Ave 95404 for you GPS users)

There are literally thousands of varieties of trees, vines and shrubs that bear edible fruit. Most people are familiar with only the most common varieties of fruits that are available commercially in stores. Many of these commercial varieties are available primarily because of the durability of the fruit for shipping, handling and storage rather than for best flavor. Even though the best tasting fruits can be too fragile for commercial distribution, they are perfectly suited to the home-gardener. Anyone with at least a six foot by six foot patch of open sunlight can successfully grow a tree with delicious fruits, even if only in a box of soil on pavement. Properly selected fruit-bearing plants can also be used for edible landscaping, proving a pleasing visual display in addition to gourmet treats. Multiple fruit varieties can be grown on the same plant by means of simple grafting techniques, resulting in a “fruit salad” tree! Grafted “fruit salad trees” will also be on display but not for sale.

Many of the best tasting fruits are only available from specialty catalogs and growers, or through hobbyist organizations like the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) garden club. CRFG promotes interest in all aspects of fruit growing, with special emphasis on rare and unusual fruits. North Bay CRFG members in “Luther Burbank country” get together regularly to taste fruits, trade plants, and to swap tips on local growing techniques and what grows best in local conditions. One recent meeting featured over 100 different locally-grown fruits to taste!

An annual event, open to the public, is the CRFG Redwood Chapter plant sale where many varieties of common, rare and experimental trees and plants from collectors all over Northern California are available. You have to come and see what is available, first-come first-served.

This year will highlight Gravenstein apple trees from the original Ft Ross Russian colony on the Sonoma coast. The Sonoma County Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers (http://www.crfg.org) is working to help preserve this particular clonal variety. These trees were created from scions (cuttings) donated by Terry and Carolyn Harrison from genetic stock they rescued in the mid 1980s, from a tree rescued by the family of Jack Barlow of Sebastopol in the earlier 1900s, from the Russian colonists’ orchard at the Ft Ross colony north of Bodega Bay 1812-1841. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ross,_California
Reports differ as to whether Ft Ross had just one tree ever, or a whole orchard of Gravs. Most reports indicate that most of the trees now in Sonoma County were brought from European stock, even if they same genetics and original German source of the Ft Ross trees. Here’s an actual invoice from 1921 to Nagasawa (Fountaingrove Ranch) for gravs
Gaye LeBaron says in this 1976 article that most local gravensteins came from Wisconsin to a Mr. Griffith, who gave them to Luther Burbank, who gave them to Mr. Hunt:

These trees are grafted onto EMLA111 semi-dwarf rootstock, with a mature height of 20 feet at most, and can be kept pruned to half that height. It has an excellent anchorage, with no staking required. Very tolerant to drought and high soil temperatures, and adapts to sandy and clay loam. It’s the best semi-dwarf for heavy or poorly drained soils. EMLA 111 produces an early and prolific fruit crop.

Gravenstein is a triploid which won’t pollenize any other apple variety. However it can be pollenized by another variety that blooms early season. You can plant two trees in one hole to save space, and further dwarf the growth and increase pollination.

From Slow Food USA: The Gravenstein apple is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, tart flavor and is especially good for baking and cooking. The sweet and tart flavors of the Gravenstein Apple are symbols of Sonoma County’s historical agricultural traditions. The Gravenstein ripens in late July—making it one of the first apples in North America ready for market. It is a squat, irregularly shaped apple with a very short stem that comes in a variety of colors; it usually has a greenish yellow background covered with broad red stripes. The Gravenstein is known for its all-purpose versatility as a terrific eating, sauce and pie apple. The apple has a crisp and juicy texture and a flavor that is aromatic and full of old-fashioned, sweet and tart flavor.
Gravensteins are in danger of becoming broadly extinct because of many reasons. The apples have short stems and the trees produce ripe apples at different times throughout the harvest season. This fruit is losing out because of an alarming loss of land, as many orchards are being converted to vineyards or rural estates. During the past six decades, Sonoma County’s Gravenstein orchards have declined by almost 7,000 acres and are currently down to 960 acres. If you are a “locavore”, you should have one of these trees in your collection!

More info on the variety at

Redwood CRFG has local events throughout the year, including garden tours, fruit tastings, juice pressings, and classes. Membership is only $41 per year and includes a color magazine, tastings, garden tours, free grafting and pruning classes, events and an interesting fruit-gardeners’ forum. You can join at the event or online at http://www.borglum.com/crfgr.. The state chapter has more information available on the web at www.crfg.org.

We also have an annual Summer Scion Exchange, particularly for greenwood grafting, like peaches, avocados and citrus. 
Attendance is limited to members, but you can join at the events, or by contacting membership below. Time and dates are sent via the listserve to members. Everyone is urged to bring greenwood cuttings from citrus and avacado. In January is a scion exchange where we give away hundreds of varieties of fruit cuttings, and offer free grafting classes. See http://www.borglum.com/crfgr/scion2007/