Gravenstein Apple Fair Kicks Off
Nothing like an apple fresh off the tree
If you live here, let alone lucky enough to have an apple tree in your yard, you know there’s nothing like eating an apple just picked from a tree. All those months of eating lackluster store-bought apples can be forgotten when the Gravenstein’s arrive in July/August. So crisp and flavorful. They remind you of why you love apples.
So the return of the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch this weekend is another reason to celebrate apples and all you can do with them — sauce, pies, crisps, cider, fritters, butters and more, not to mention dried apples.
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By noon on Saturday, the Fair was full of people and strollers. One person with antlers on stilts ambled by. People seemed to be glad for the return of the Fair, with people freely jostling each other in crowds.
There was music across two stages. Below the Jenny Kerr band was playing and plenty of people were enjoying sitting on bales of hay in the shade and listening to live music.
There were many booths with offering cider, beer, wine and lots of food stalls with long lines.
There were llamas, ponies, horses, a cow and calves, and pygmy goats.
All Good Apples
But let’s get back to the apples. While Gravensteins are the signature apple of our region, they are really the opening bell to an entire season of fresh apples of all varieties that become available now through November. The Russian River Slo Food group publishes tasting notes for all the amazing varieties that can be found in the area on this “Apples of Sonoma County” chart.
The Slo Food group also provides Apple Core and a volunteer-based free Community Apple Press for creating cider from your own apples. Their overall goal is to support the remaining local apple growers.
One of the local growers is David Hale of Hale’s Apple Farm. He is profiled in the article “Adaptability and Grit Sustain Apple Farming in Sonoma County,” by Selina Knowles, on CUESA.org (now Foodwise). A fifth-generation apple farmer, David brings his apple crop to the Mission Community Market in San Francisco. Knowles writes:
Hale’s Apple Farm is received by a loyal base of customers who appreciate 40 unique varieties they bring over the course of the season, including heirloom favorites like Gravenstein, Pink Pearl, and Ashmead’s Kernel. By directly selling to farmers market customers, David is able to carry on Sebastopol’s longstanding tradition of apple growing, even in the changing landscape. “When I went into farming, I wanted to grow food for people, so I’m sticking with apples,” David says. “We’re bringing a good product, and it’s something that people can’t get at a local grocery store, something that’s fresh right off the tree.”
Solar Drying of Apples
Parked in the driveway of a home along Ragle Road, someone deserves recognition for drying apples on a dashboard. Imagine if we could have gotten all the cars baking in the sun on the soccer fields at Ragle Ranch to do the same.
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