This retiree has a conservation orchard with 700 varieties of the rarest apples in the world

Tom Brown, retired, has a passion: to find very rare apples threatened with extinction and to collect them to plant them in his orchard. Today, he owns 700 varieties of rare apples.

Tom Brown is a 79 year old retired man. For 25 years, he has had a very special hobby, since he is an apple hunter. This enthusiast has an orchard with very old apple trees at his home in Clemmons, North Carolina.

In this region of the United States, every family had their own orchard with many apple trees in the 1700s. Appalachia was the main apple growing region in the country. However, this practice was gradually abandoned due to migration to cities and industrial agriculture.

Thus, the majority of small orchards have closed, and apple trees have been abandoned.

When he heard about this story, Tom Brown decided to save the last apples that were still good today. Since he retired, he has been looking for missing apples. To collect these rare fruits, he devotes about 3 days each week to looking for them and travels nearly 30,000 kilometers a year.

Currently, the enthusiast owns a 2-acre orchard with 1,200 varieties of apples, 700 of which are the rarest in the world. Most of the fruit it houses has not been sold for over a century.

“These apples belong to the eating habits of the generations of my grandparents and great-grandparents. Saving an apple on the verge of extinction is a miraculous feeling! It’s incredibly rewarding and addictive ,” said Tom Brown.

To find the apples threatened with extinction, the retiree conducts the survey among people aged 80 or 90, because they are the only ones who know the locations of these ancient fruits. This research is a real race against time because every year, apple trees are destroyed due to storms, global warming or beetles.

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