Sources of Our Apple Trees

It has not been easy finding the trees needed to jumpstart our heritage Newark Cider apple collection at Ironbound Farm. Don’t get us wrong—the cider gods have truly been smiling down on us all along the way and we have been far more fortunate than we ever thought possible.

Thanks to Tom Burford, the acclaimed apple historian better known as “Professor Apple,” and his partners at Vintage Virginia Apples, we have hundreds of Harrisons—the granddaddy of Newark’s heirloom varieties. (We’re pretty sure it was because of the Harrison that George Washington preferred Newark Cider—the “champagne of ciders”—above all others.)

John Bunker, intrepid apple explorer and owner of Fedco Trees, was kind enough to connect us with Dan Bussey, manager of the Seed Savers Exchange Historic Orchard and author of the soon-to-be-released encyclopedic The Illustrated History of Apples in North America. Dan patiently answered questions about the origin of obscure apple varieties, gave us leads on some hard-to-find trees, and even sent us scionwood from his own orchard.

It is because of these, and other dedicated apple preservationists, that we have been able to fill our orchards with legendary New Jersey varieties like the Graniwinkle, the Winesap (yes Virginia—it was from here first!) and the Tompkins County King.

With our upcoming fall planting, we will have well over 2,000 trees in the ground and thousands more on order—including many Canfields—from our friends at Hostetler Farms, Century Farm Orchards and a few Amish growers in Pennsylvania. And James, our grafting-master-in-the-making, has grafted over 1,000 trees that are in our nursery waiting to be planted next spring.

But, no matter how far and wide we search, we still haven’t found a single Poveshon tree! The Poveshon, according to William Coxe in 1817, was one of the “four most celebrated Newark Cider apples.” And we can’t even find one!

We have not, however, lost all hope. Andy and Polly at Aaron Burr Cidery promised to keep an eye out for her while they’re out foraging for apples for their own amazing ciders. And, John Bunker assures us that there is a good chance that there is a Poveshon tree still alive somewhere deep in a New Jersey forest, waiting patiently to be rediscovered. So, if you see something that looks kind of like the 1825 painting of the Poveshon below, please let us know—there’s definitely a case or two of cider in it for you!


Coxe, William; illustrations by Coxe’s daughters. c1825. “Poveshon.” USDA National Agricultural Library. Special Collections.