Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
…the county’s orchards have long been “dry farmed,” or without irrigation. Other regions, including parts of Washington and California, have proven far more productive, both with irrigation and with newer, high-density growing methods.
Apple season kicks off next Sunday with a celebration at the Sebastopol Farmers Market, where Slow Food Russian River will have a community apple press and fresh juice.
This Friday will mark the opening of Sonoma County Cider Week, an inaugural series of events with 10 craft cideries taking part.
The celebrations will continue Aug. 11 and 12 with the 45th Gravenstein Apple Fair at Sebastopol’s Ragle Ranch Park.
Apple season in Sonoma County
The Chevy flatbed farm truck has been hauling apples and other crops for 43 years. The small yellow tractor has been chugging through the orchards for over 50. And some of the nearby Gravenstein apple trees have been blossoming for nearly a century.
The farmer, Paul Kolling, is 63.
“We keep the old stuff going somehow,” said Kolling, standing in a sparse orchard in Sebastopol where a crew of workers Thursday shook trees and collected apples for cider vinegar.
Kolling, a former engineer who switched to apple farming four decades ago, was thinking about the half-century- old Massey Fergusson tractor, whose front and back ends each carried a wooden apple bin. The tractor wouldn’t start until the farmer adjusted a loose battery cable.
However, “the old stuff” just as easily could have referred to the orchard’s aged trees, a few of which keep producing apples though their insides are nearly hollowed out or the holes in their trunks are big enough to put a hand through.