Booth Canyon Orchard Has Apples Aplenty

Stina Booth and John Richardson grow 29 organic heirloom apple varieties
Stina Booth and John Richardson grow 29 organic heirloom apple varieties

Whatever your apple craving might be—tart and tangy or smooth and sweet—Booth Canyon Orchard owners Stina Booth and John Richardson have you covered. With 29 organic heirloom varieties of apples and more on the way—along with 12 varieties of pears—their tree fruits cover the full range of flavor, size and color.

It all started when Booth bought a Methow Valley farmhouse that happened to have several old pear trees. Her hobby of tending the trees quickly became an obsession, and she started Booth Canyon Orchard in 1995, and soon after left her job as a Forest Service ranger. When now husband and co-owner Richardson and his three dogs (the official organic rodent control) joined her in 2000, they purchased an additional 5 acres of apple trees and began “top working,” grafting pencil-size pieces of young trees into slits in mature trees, to produce different fruit.

New trees are grafted and planted yearly, which explains the unusually wide range of fruit. “We are always looking for the best, highest-flavor apples and pears,” says Booth. “Now we are looking at filling in gaps in the flavor, color and seasonal spectrums.”

Favorites ripe this month include Bramley’s Seedling, a kick-in-the-mouth tart apple that is perfect for pies, and Sweet 16, which has a wine-like complexity of licorice, cherries and other flavors. For your pear craving, try a Rescue, a smooth, light-flavored fruit originally from Orcas Island.

Find Booth’s fruit at the University, West Seattle and Ballard farmers markets starting in the middle of this month, or online at boothcanyonorchard.com.

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