Apples of Uncommon Character

Thanks to over a thousand Kickstarter supporters, we’ll be completing renovation on Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s Cooks House (pictured above, in the center of Jay Halsey’s photo) next spring. Besides providing lodgings and the ranch’s first library, the Cooks House will also have a kitchen — one large enough for weekend cooking classes!

As we have gathered books over the past 30 years, food has always been an important theme for the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Food is such a vibrant intersection between people and the land.

We hope to highlight some of those favorite food books over the winter. With a nip in our autumn days, we thought we should begin with apples. Henry David Thoreau said it well in his essay Wild Apples: “It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.” Here’s one we love:


Rowan Jacobsen is one of our favorite writers on food, from Fruitless Fall, his wonderful book on bees & beekeeping, to American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of our Woods, Waters and Fields. His recent Apples of Uncommon Character uncovers lost flavors and traditions while surveying over 120 apple varieties, including the Black Oxford, Knobbed Russet, D’Arcy Spice, Hidden Rose, Granite Beauty, and the Westfield Seek-No-Further. It’s such a wonderful and beautifully illustrated book that we keep picking up extra copies whenever possible!

The Land Library’s collection of apple-related books keeps growing —

including many books on apple trees & horticulture:


along with grafting:


and of course cooking:


and the fine art of cider-making:


learning from old traditions,


and new!

Over the years we have fallen in love with the work of Common Ground, an inspired English organization that seeks to preserve & celebrate the natural & cultural heritage of the United Kingdom. Local distinctiveness is at the heart of everything they do. For many years they’ve had a happy focus on apples & assorted native fruits, producing books that have always inspired us, far away in the Rocky Mountains:



Common Ground never rests, always coming up with imaginative ways to engage people in their local environment.


In 1990 they launched Apple Day. It has become a new calendar custom, every October 21st, celebrating the richness and diversity of local apples, flavors, and folk traditions.

Don’t let this season slip by — scout out some interesting apples and enjoy!


Tom Putt apples, from Rosie Sanders’ The Apple Book

“More than any other single trait, it’s the apple’s genetic variability — its ineluctable wildness — that accounts for its ability to make itself at home in places as different from one another as New England and New Zealand, Kazakhstan and California. Wherever the apple tree grows, its offspring propose so many different variations on what it means to be an apple…that a couple of these novelties are almost bound to have whatever qualities it takes to prosper in the tree’s adopted home.” — Michael Pollan, from The Botany of Desire.



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