Heirloom Apples and A Sense of Place

Last week Christopher and I attended a book reading/signing event down in Chatham County for the book Old Southern Apples by Lee Calhoun.  What we thought would be a staid but educational event turned out to entertain us and lift our spirits.

Old Southern Apples book cover

When Lee was first introduced to the crowd by Debbie Roos, he mentioned that he would be reading passages from his book.  I cringed as I pictured  the next hour of pain as entry after entry of facts about a single apple tree was read to the crowd.  It turns out that the book’s entries are as entertaining and as well crafted as fictional stories.  Add to this Lee’s beautiful speaking voice and Southern drawl and we were mesmerized as he read to the crowd stories about the family strife that led to one apple’s name or another apple’s peculiar history.  The rest of the audience was equally entranced.

To add to our delight, the room was packed with farmers, locavores, gardeners, and advocates for our local food system, probably at least 200 people in all.  Where else in the U.S., I told Christopher later, would a lecture about old varieties of apples be so well attended.  This seminar is but one example of our region’s peculiar (in a good way) support for the local food system.  It makes me proud to call this area of North Carolina home and even prouder to know that we will join the ranks of farmers/homesteaders in the area once the purchase of Waterdog Farms goes through in another 3 months or so.


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