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This week’s edition!

Apple detective to speak at Food for Thought luncheon

John Bunker

USM LAC Senior College will present apple historian John Bunker at its next Food for Thought luncheon on Friday, November 9 at noon.

Apples are John Bunker’s passion. He grows them, writes about them, lectures about them, and researches their history. He is also an apple detective, searching out varieties once thought to be extinct that are still quietly thriving on old Maine farms and fields.

You may notice them only in spring when a blush of rosy pink appears in an overgrown area as you drive by. These are remnants of family orchards left over from when many small Maine farms were abandoned in favor of factory jobs. At one time, over 20,000 varieties of apples were grown in America. Maine itself had 2,000 to 3,000 varieties. Each type had its special use: pies, applesauce, cider, eating. Fed to farm animals, preserved through the winter, apples provided fresh fruit to a family for most of the year.

Newly graduated from Colby College, Bunker purchased farm land in Palermo, Maine, where apple trees were waiting for him to take an interest. It has been a life-long relationship. He began researching old apple varieties and travelled throughout Maine looking for long-forgotten trees. The trees can live 200 to 300 years, so his quest has not been in vain.

Today he owns an apple research station, grows heirloom apples, and has helped establish an heirloom orchard at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in Unity, home of the Common Ground Fair. That orchard is now home to 300 varieties of apple and pear trees.

Food for Thought luncheons take place in Room 170 at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn Campus at 50 Westminster Street in Lewiston. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. The program is free, but if you wish to have lunch, the cost is $8 and an advance reservation is required; call 753-6510 before noon on Wednesday, November 7. Food may also be purchased at the campus cafeteria.

The Food for Thought luncheon will resume on January 11 with forensic pathologist Fred Jordan, who returns with two stories of crime detection: “The Case of the Missing Housewife” and “The Life and Death of a Maine Boy.”

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