Palermo, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- John Bunker is no Johnny Appleseed. He's much more knowledgeable and scientific as he locates, collects and conserves the heirloom apple varieties of Maine.
John lives off the grid at his Super Chili Farm in Palermo. He started to appreciate apples soon after he graduated from Colby in 1967. "Here was this great gift that someone who I don't even know left to me," he said about apples which he found on an abandoned farm.
He notes how Maine grew more than a thousand varieties of apples when family farms were prevalent after the Civil War. As the economic model changed, large farms produced fewer varieties of apples for supermarkets.
However, having just the right apple is important. John notes, "The right apple in a recipe is just like having the right tool for the job." He notes that MacIntosh is Maine's favorite eating apple, but it turns soupy when used in a pie.
He has collected hundreds of varieties and has rescued at least one type from every county in Maine. "I would stop and ask and the next thing I know there would be grandma and grandpa out there telling me and picking them with me. I would shake the tree and they would be there picking them off the ground."
Sunday, October 21st is Great Maine Apple Day at the MOFCA Education Center in Unity. There will be a team of expert apple identifiers there should someone have an heirloom variety on their property. They are asked to bring these varieties to the event.