Windfall Orchard is the story of two men who farmed a three-acre apple orchard in Vermont's fertile Champlain Valley for over thirty years.
Country doctor Ted Collier and Vermont native and orchardist Art Blaise cleared, planted, grafted, pruned, and harvested the plantation which produced over fifty different varieties-from familiar apples like the Macintosh to its presumed ancestor, the Fameuse (fay-MUZS), which was brought to Lake Champlain by the French before the Revolutionary War.
They taught how the buds of preferred varieties are grafted onto new seedlings, worked with Jamaicans who helped bring in the harvest every autumn, and joined in a traditional cyder pressing.
The video was shot entirely on consumer video equipment, and primary editing was completed at community access facilities in Burlington, Vermont. It was produced and directed by Jay Collier and music is by Orealis, a Montreal-based trio who interpret traditional music from Appalachia, the British Isles, and Quebec.
Vermont Public Televisions Television Library Service distributes the video to schools statewide.
Sunrise ambiance begins (segment total :10/running total :10)
Music Orealis (:10/:20)
Close-up of Dr. Collier walking to the apple orchard and climbing a tree to pick apples. Sun rises.
Narrator (Dr. Ted Collier): EVERY MORNING IN SEPTEMBER WHEN I COME OUT TO THE ORCHARD, I'M REMINDED THAT THE HARVEST ISN'T THE END, IT'S JUST ONE PART OF A NEVER-ENDING CYCLE.
EVEN NOW, THE TREE IS ALREADY PREPARING FOR THE NEXT SEASON, ITS BUDS ARE THE PROMISE OF BLOSSOMS AND HARVESTS TO COME.
I'M TED COLLIER. THIS IS WINDFALL ORCHARD. (1:05/1:35)
Title: Windfall Orchard (:10/1:45)
How they got started
W.S. house and orchard
WHEN WE FIRST MOVED TO CORNWALL IN 1958, THERE WAS A SINGLE ROW OF TREES THAT HAD BEEN PLANTED BY THE PREVIOUS OWNERS ABOUT 15 YEARS BEFORE.
DR. COLLIER: The apples were little scrungy things and we were trying to make applesauce out of them.
W.S. orchardist Art Blaise
OUR NEIGHBOR, ART BLAISE, CAME IN TO HELP WITH THE YARD WORK, MOWING, AND SUGGESTED THAT WE PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE TREES.
M.S. Art, supervising orchard workers.
HE'S BEEN AN ORCHARDIST THROUGH MOST OF HIS LIFE AND SO, WITH HIS HELP, PRUNING, FERTILIZING, AND SOME SPRAYING, THE MACINTOSH AND CORTLANDS THRIVED.
Art: An apple tree will last for years, a hundred years, if you take care of it and not overprune it. You sculpt it out and it'll grow back. You go in other orchards and you can see that a lot of trees have been pruned so heavy, they're dying this year.
SO, WHEN AN ADJACENT FARMER LEFT THE AREA AND GAVE UP FARMING, WE PURCHASED ANOTHER 2-1/2 ACRES WHICH HELD THE BALANCE OF THE ORIGINAL ORCHARD WHICH HAD BEEN PLANTED ABOUT 1918.
BUT THE PASTURE HAD OVERGROWN WITH SUMAC AND OTHER SECOND GROWTH. (:20/ 2:05)
ART BLAISE: One thing led to another and we kept cleaning and kept cleaning and I saw more land to clean and we just kept going...
DR. COLLIER: ... we had to do something with those blank spaces.
WE BATTLED THAT SUMAC FOR YEARS ON END, EACH YEAR PUSHING BACK ANOTHER FEW YARDS AND PLANTING ANOTHER ROW OF TREES.
ART BLAISE: We have twenty-two Macintoshes in here now... ten Cortlands... six Goldens and four Greenings.
DR. COLLIER: The Greenings are old - they were planted in 1918."(:30/2:35)
The Jamaican Workers
Jamaicans picking up drops, then picking in trees.
AS OUR TREES IMPROVED IN HEALTH AND VIGOR, ART AND I FOUND THAT HARVESTING 250 BOXES OF APPLES EVERY FALL GOT BEYOND US.
WE BEGAN TO ARRANGE FOR ANOTHER ORCHARDIST TO BRING IN HIS WORKERS TO PICK OUR CROP.
W.S. & M.S. Workers
EVERY YEAR, THESE TEN MEN COME FROM JAMAICA TO PICK APPLES HERE IN ADDISON COUNTY.
ALTHOUGH AMERICANS HAVE PRIORITY FOR THE JOBS, FEW APPLY. IT IS VERY HARD WORK, BUT IN THE THREE MONTHS THEY'RE HERE, THE JAMAICANS EARN THE EQUIVALENT OF A YEAR'S SALARY AT HOME. (:25/ 3:50)
ART BLAISE: It's a shame to shake 'em, but they got hit heavy with hail in July. But all you can use 'em for is cider. They was probably 80 percent hit.
You find some that's good, but it's not enough good ones to say so. You can pick 'em up and you get a lot of hail damage. It's good fruit, but it's nothin' the public would want. (:35/3:25)
V.O. shaking tree. Men working.
IN SEPTEMBER OF 1988, HURRICANE GILBERT HIT THE WEST INDIES WHILE THE JAMAICANS WERE IN VERMONT. THE LOCAL COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER AROUND A FUND RAISER TO HELP THEIR FAMILIES.
WINSTON WILLIAMS LIVES IN ST. THOMAS (:15/ 4:05)
WINSTON WILLIAMS: Last year, in September, we were up here and then we were watching the television, and we saw that dangerous storm that came in Jamaica, Gilbert, and were very sad about it being away from our families, but however the Martins family put together a bingo party in the hey (honor) of we, the Jamaican fellows and it was a good success to help our families at home. (:15/ 4:20)
THE MONEY DONATED DURING THE FUND RAISER WAS SENT TO THE FAMILIES IN JAMAICA. (:10/ 4:35)
WINSTON WILLIAMS: When we first got home, it looked so sad, our homes were destroyed by that hurricane. However, we pulled together and we replaced our homes and we live again (:10/ 4:45)
WS men in orchard
OFTEN, WHEN MY GRANDSON STEVEN VISITS, WE'LL WALK THROUGH THE ORCHARD TOGETHER. HE'S FASCINATED BY THE DIFFERENT APPLES, THEIR COLORS, SIZES, AND SHAPES. (:10/ 4:55)
DR. COLLIER: Steven, I just wanted to explain to you about these little wild apples. This tree was started in the orchard from a seed from one of the other trees. But look how small these apples are. This is what happens with most trees if they grow wild from seed.
In the nursery, we have to graft apples in order to get a specific type of apple, particularly that Macintosh which you like so well. But these seedlings are quite small and not really useful for anything, so what we're going to do is show you the different ways we can graft on to these wild trees so that we don't get little apples and get nice big ones that are good to eat.
They move to the nursery.
DR. COLLIER: We're going to cut a piece of wood off this tree because we want to make a new tree out of this kind of apple. We're going to use the new growth from this year because it has the strongest buds on it. You can see the circle here where the new growth has started from last year, so everything from here on out is this year's growth.
You ready? Shall we cut it here? Be careful. Now I'm going to cut the leaves off and that's what we're going to use. We're going to cut the bud off that and put it onto one of the seedling trees.
Where do you think the bud's hiding in there? Can you see the bud? Where is the bud that's going to be a new tree?
STEVEN: Right there.
DR. COLLIER: Look there, see it? That's it. Now I'm going to show you how to put that on the little seedling tree we have here in the nursery.
They move to the seedling tree.
DR. COLLIER: These are little trees we've grown from the seeds from the cider mill. Steven: So wait a minute. You mean you planted this last year?"
DR. COLLIER: That's right. From the seeds that came from the cider press.
DR. COLLIER: If we let this tree grow up, it would have little apples on it just like the little ones that we looked at down below. What we want to do is we want this tree to grow Granny Smith apples, so that's why we cut this branch off that Granny Smith tree and we're going to put one of those little buds we found down inside the branch on this seedling.
And then next spring, the bud will grow up and be a tree all by itself and we'll cut off the old tree.
Now I'm going to cut the bud off this little branch very carefully. See? Now we've got he bud and its going right in there on the seedling tree. Now what we're going to do is turn back the bark on the little tree to make a place for the little bud.
Now I need that ribbon you were saving for me, and we'll wrap him. So what I'm doing is ... see, I cut him, so its just like putting on a band-aid on a cut on your finger, only we're putting a band-aid on the tree. We want to be very careful we don't cover up the bud ... and we're going to wrap it around...
STEVEN: Like a big band-aid...
DR. COLLIER: Like a big band-aid.
STEVEN: Will it really fix the cut?"
DR. COLLIER: It'll fix the cut because we've sealed it, you see?
STEVEN: But we didn't put any medicine on it.
DR. COLLIER: Well, Mother Nature has a way of providing her own medicine... So, there it is. And this whole leaf stem will come off and show the little bud underneath. Now, I'll show you over in the other part of the nursery, where a little bud has grown out.
DR. COLLIER: These are trees that we budded last year, Steven. These show what happens after the trees begin to grow their first year. This little tree is just a year old; it was budded last summer. Notice how straight and tall it is because its out here in the sunshine and its gotten all the good food out of the nursery. You'll notice we've got the bottom of the nursery all covered with grass so the weeds don't grow. This one is all set to go, and we've even got a label with its name on it, this one's going to be a Banana Apple. Next spring, in March or April, we're going to dig it up and plant it in the orchard.
Over here, Steven, is a Rhode Island Greening that we produced the same way we did the Banana up in the nursery. You can see where the old seedling tree scar is right about here and the rest of this tree is all the tree that grew up from the bud similar to the one we just grafted on.
Here's the original seedling scar. The tree, with that good band-aid on it, was able to heal and grow all around it and produce a whole new tree. Pretty soon, you won't be able to see that mark at all when the trunk gets bigger and bigger.
PERHAPS, OVER THE YEARS, AS STEVEN BECOMES MORE INVOLVED IN THE ACTIVITIES HERE, HE'LL BE ABLE TO SHARE SOME OF THE ENJOYMENT ARTHUR AND I HAVE GAINED FROM THE ORCHARD. (:10/ 15:35)
People picking apples.
EVERY FALL WE INVITE FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO JOIN IN THE HARVEST. THEY COME TO PICK THEIR FAVORITE VARIETIES WHICH WE'VE DISCOVERED ARE REALLY DIFFERENT FOR EVERY PERSON.
Picking. Juggling sequence. (:15)
ONE OF OUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES IS PRESSING CIDER FROM APPLES WE'VE GRADED OUT OF OUR SALES AND THOSE THAT HAVE DROPPED OFF THE TREES. (:15/ 15:50)
Upbeat Orealis music. Cider-pressing sequence in barn.
DR. COLLIER: Lets go look at some of the other varieties we picked down in the orchard, Steven. I picked these this afternoon; some of them are ripe, riper than others...
The one I picked off the tree I just showed you is a Snow apple. It is a very old apple that probably came from France and then to Canada. It's other name is Fameuse which is a french name.
We think that it probably is the parent of our Macintosh apple, which is the best apple we have in northern New England. You can see the similarities between the two.
Now the second most popular apple in our part of the country is the Red Delicious, but it's also popular in many other parts of the country. You'll notice this one's quite different look at the bumps on the bottom. That is one of the main ways you can tell the difference.
These apples have different tastes and, as you can see when you put them side-by-side, they really look quite different.
Now look, here's one that's quite different; one that's quite green, so green its called the Rhode Island Greening. This is a very old apple that came from Rhode Island, just like its name says. It's primarily a cooking apple and many of the old timers like this apple, but its hard to get now. It makes awfully good pies.
Now a newer apple that we like to see a beautiful apple related to the Macintosh and the Red Delicious is the Empire. You see it's a smaller apple, but it has some of the taste of both and a beautiful deep red color. These four apples are related.
Now, let's see what else we've got here.
Here's another old apple this is the Spitzenburg and this one was grown way back when our country was quite young. In fact, many people say that this apple was Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple. It has a good taste, but it doesn't keep very well.
Here's a brand new apple: this one's only about 10 or 15 years old. It's called a Criterion and it's a combination of the Macintosh, the Red Delicious, and what's called a Winter Banana apple. It can be kept when its refrigerated for a long period of time. It has a delicious taste, somewhere between these other two parents.
So you see all of these apples are related in one way or the other and each has its own particular characteristics.
Music by Orealis. Trees at twilight.
Dr. Collier picks a tree at sunset.
With: Dr. Theodore Collier, Arthur Blaise, Stephen Rizner, Winston Williams
Technical assistance: Jim Nellis, WPTZ-TV; Lori Murphy, Adelphia Cable; Michael Rizner
Thanks: Joan Collier, Cathy Carmody, Georges Peron, Ruth Peron, Clara Peron, Marie Peron
Music: Orealis, Kirk MacGeachy, Jim Stephens, Renee Morin
Producer, director, video, audio, editor: Jay Collier