new englandNew England is home to some of the oldest apple trees in the United States, says Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association. “Many of our orchards date back to the 1700s, spanning eight to nine generations.”

With growers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the New England Apple Association represents a broad range of orchards and apples varieties.

The McIntosh reigns as the region’s signature variety. Other widely-planted varieties include Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Honeycrisp and Eastern Red Delicious. “One of the oldest varieties is Rhode Island Greening, named after an innkeeper in the 1600s called “Green,” says Weeks.

Interest in heirloom varieties is on the rise, she adds. “The heirlooms offer consumers a taste of an older, sometimes unusual looking fruit. Perhaps as a result of the “buy local” movement, these unusual varieties are making a comeback.”

Apple orchards play a key role in New England tourism. Orchard “side attractions,” from traditional hay rides to world-class golf courses and microbreweries, are designed to reach the next generation of consumers and get them in touch with where their food is grown, Weeks says.

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