Preservation through Documentation: MORP maps historic orchards using GIS methods backed up by old fashioned, hand drawn grid maps. In addition to old trees we map associated historical features such as homestead houses and cellars, and tools of the trade like presses, boxes, and ladders. Ideally, even before mapping work begins, MORP creates an orchard narrative to include contact information, general condition of the orchard, and most importantly interview notes with the orchard owner capturing as much historical information connected to the orchard site as possible. Memories of orchard owners and their families have become as important to us as the rare genetics; together they create a powerful story. All this information is collected on paper and entered into the MORP Orchard Database along with GPS points, field notes, historical research, and photographs. We automatically back up our work on external drives several times a day.
MORP’s Tools of the Trade: FileMaker Platform ~ This is a powerful software for creating custom databases and apps that work seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, Windows, Mac, and the Web. MORP currently has an individual FileMaker Pro license, and wonders if a Team Cloud option might be a good choice to best collaborate and share information with fellow fruit explorer groups. MORP uses Filemaker to manage several databases such as the MORP Orchard Database as described above, and our Old Colorado Apples Database where we collect information on all varieties historically grown in Colorado to include their current status of lost, endangered, rare, or common; and whether they are available, and if so, where. We also manage and organize our photos using FileMaker. We use a unique 7 digit identifier beginning with three unique letter combinations to connect all data from each individual orchard to it’s associated record/orchard number. On our mobile devices we use FileMaker Go app to collect information in the field.
Arrow 100 Subfoot GNSS ~ MORP recently switched from using an outdated, professional grade, handheld GPS unit to using a high accuracy GNSS receiver with iPhone as the collection device . Although our old unit worked fine, the software to go along with it was no longer supported. Also, we are able to get back to source tree with ease and accuracy using this new workflow; before, we often had to refer to our hand drawn maps to best get back to point.
From our research, mobile device paired via bluetooth with GNSS is the trend now that high accuracy, real time, world wide receivers have become affordable; and applications on mobile device now can keep your collection software from becoming outdated. Esri Collector app on mobile device is used to upload maps on mobile to collect your data in the field such as feature ID, coordinates, field notes, and photos. In order to use Esri Collector you need to have an Esri Online account and possibly ArcGIS Desktop to customize your data collection field attributes, create maps, and manage and analyze data; ArcDesktop is the foundation application for our GIS work. If you are a Mac user you will need to install Parallels or similar software to run ArcDesktop on Mac. If you are a non-profit an annual license for ArcGIS is very affordable. Multiple users can be added which might be something for fellow fruit explorer groups to consider to best collaborate and share information. MORP is still deep in the data collection phase, but it is on our minds how to best share this information (with permission from orchard owners) with both the public and fellow fruit explorers . The fine details of data management and information sharing will need to be worked out, but let the conversation begin!
Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP) presents two annual events where you may purchase heritage apple trees. Mark your calendars for the annual Heritage Apple Tree Sale on the third SAT in June, and the annual Orchard Social and Harvest Festival on the second SAT in October. In between events, you may schedule a special visit to the MORP nursery when you buy 10 trees or more.
Choose rare apple varieties hand-grafted by MORP. Proceeds benefit the establishment of school, community, and public orchards by growing and donating these rare genetics across Colorado, made possible by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Award. Contact us if you think your organization may qualify for donated trees. The orchard site must be a public or community space with good wildlife fence, water, and labor to care for the trees. So far this year, tree sales have raised over $17,000 towards MORP’s orchard and “re-orcharding” program! Lucky for the general public, hundreds of trees remain to choose from. See here for our current availability list. Please note that donated trees are selected from a separate list.
Trees are $50. Did you know that MORP members receive $10 off each heritage tree purchased, qualify for an additional bulk tree discount (buy 30 or more trees and get $20 off each tree), and receive special member-only invites to tree sales? Not a member yet?Become one todayWe thank you.
Directions to the MORP nursery are 17312 RD G, Cortez CO 81321. From the highway 491 turnoff just south of Cortez drive west for 7.5 miles on county road G (McElmo Canyon road). Nursery is on the south or Ute Mountain side of the road. The turn-around is a three point turn for standard sized vehicles. By appointment only. Minimum 10 tree purchase.
Thank you for sharing our passion for growing heritage trees. We hand-graft each tree for you in order to spread these rare and historic genetics across Montezuma County and beyond. Our annual tree sales are also a source of revenue to help support our non-profit efforts to keep Montezuma County “Orchard Country”. We thank you.
We guarantee that our trees are healthy at the time of purchase. We further guarantee that trees are living things and that there are many ways to kill them. We gladly offer feedback and advice, but not refunds or replacements.
If you have any unresolved concerns when selecting a tree do not buy it. Please “talk tree care” with us anytime before or after your purchase. Your success is important to us.
Even if planting a tree or an orchard is often an act of perseverance, in our county alone, we still find growing – thousands of trees 100 years or older. So, please plant a tree today for our future, and in honor of the hard work of our early fruit-growing pioneers!
MORP PLANTING ADVICE:
Trees are happiest in the ground, not in a pot, so plant immediately for best success.
Select a site with good soil drainage and good air flow. Avoid cold sinks.
Space standard apple trees 25-30 feet apart; dwarf 15 feet apart.
Dig hole 2-3 times wider than the rootball and just deep enough to allow graft union to be several inches above soil line to keep traits of rootstock. In the case of seedling rootstock you may bury graft. Old timers did so for a stronger tree.
Do not add hot compost, manure, or fertilizer to planting hole. Back fill with native soil mixed with one third composted compost or quality potting soil. Water in and tap down air pockets. Mulch with 1-2” of compost per year; do not over do it.
Protect your tree from deer, rodents, and other mechanical damage. Good fence is essential. Paint lower south trunk with plain white latex paint diluted with water to protect from sun scald. If you use tree stakes, trunk guards, limb spacers, ID tags, etc., reposition EVERY year.
Proper watering is key; not too much and not too little; just the right amount at just the right time. Easy to say, but takes experience to learn as the answer depends on the weather and site conditions, age and condition of tree, season and dormancy, and other factors. Rule of thumb: water slowly and deeply to get water down and out into soil profile. Repeat process when just the top of the soil just begins to dry. Flood or drip irrigation is best; sprinklers cause disease and sunburn, and often do not water deep enough. Water deeply and frequently to get a tree established; even during dry winter months; very hard to water too much in heat of the summer!
The market has returned for Montezuma Valley Fruits with consumers desire for the taste and heritage our local apples represent. Click link below to read the Montezuma Valley Apple Market Study detailing our market opportunities and challenges.
JOIN US on October 8 from 10 to 4! Sign up to attend one of the hard cider tastings (1 or 2 p) at the FREE Orchard Social by pre paying at our Paypal Button at our website – with cider tasting and time – in the memo line, $15 members, $20 non-members; or send us an email to get on the list: firstname.lastname@example.org
MORP is researching old Colorado apples and creating an Old Colorado Apples list. By searching historical books, reports and records, we have so far documented 436 varieties of apples that were once grown in Colorado. Some of the apples on this list we see still growing in our landscape on trees up to 100 years old or older. Others, nearly 50% of the list, are now considered lost/extinct. But we will keep looking for them.
A few details from the list of Old Colorado Apples:
64 varieties, 15%, are Common—10 or more mail order sources carry them; these varieties are NOT commonly found in nurseries, but can be found with specialty nurseries and collectors.
55 varieties, 13%, are Rare—4 to 9 mail order sources carry them
108 varieties, 25%, are Endangered—1 to 3 mail order sources; we work to get our hands on these apples and increase their numbers before they end up on the lost list
205 varieties or 47% are Lost—considered Extinct; MORP has rediscovered two lost varieties – the Colorado Orange and the Cedar Hill Black apples
This great diversity disappeared not because these varieties did not grow well here; rather because many were simply not shiny red apples representing the standard of the time. We work to return as many of these varieties as we can to Colorado orchards. To be successful, we will need you to plant diversity in YOUR orchards— as was tradition a century ago.
Montezuma County Context:
Approximately 32 varieties of apples have been identified (or tentatively identified) thus far by MORP in Montezuma County orchards planted pre 1922. When compared to the number of varieties documented here in our SW district on the 1922 Sandsten survey, we find that 65% of that diversity is still found in our area’s oldest orchards! Yet, this diversity is hanging on a limb, so to speak, and preserving it before it is gone is what MORP works to do.
Documenting the diversity lost, is another form of preservation, even if less rewarding. When compared to the 436 some varieties of apples that were introduced to the State of Colorado by 1922, Montezuma County of today represents an estimate of 7% of that total state-wide diversity. From our observations we predict this is a much higher number than elsewhere in the state; yet a representation of the devastating loss of diversity that occurred in Colorado and across the country over the last century.
Please be patient as we graft and build our inventory of Colorado heritage apples. Our tree sales offer a limited selection of these heritage trees; including other endangered and rare apple varieties, some prized for cider.