Finding Surry County Apples All the Way in Africa

The heirloom apples in the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard at Horne Creek Living Historical Farm have long been a favorite of locals in northwestern North Carolina, but now they're becoming a favorite in Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda, too.

The link between these places halfway across the world from each other is California nurseryman Kevin Hauser. Hauser acquired cuttings from heritage varieties of apples grown at Horne Creek to assist in the Apples for Africa aid project.

The nonprofit helps people in the tropics, especially in war-torn African countries like Rwanda, Sierre Leone and Congo, to establish apple orchards.

Hauser owns Kuffle Creek Apple Nursery and is experimenting with apple varieties that can be shipped year-round. He saw apples as an ideal crop for the war-torn countries of eastern and southern Africa because often women and children are left to farm while men are off fighting.

“Crops like cassava, yams and Irish potatoes require cultivating the fields every year. But establishing an apple orchard gives a return every year with not nearly as much labor,” he explained. Apples in Africa

Hauser began experimenting with varieties grown at Horne Creek's Heritage Apple Orchard several years ago. He acquired cuttings, called scionwood, from Horne Creek. In Africa, the rainfall patterns and highland conditions in certain areas allowed some of these apple varieties to produce high quality fruit, and allowed farmers in the region to raise their household income.

For example, the $8 for a case of apples triples the return of harvesting tea all day, an average crop. The Hunge apple variety does particularly well in Zambia while the Dixie Red Delight apple is one of many varieties successfully being grown in Rwanda.

“We never expected our apples to have international impact,” said Horne Creek Site Manager Lisa Turney. “We are gratified that these apple varieties can offer hope and improved lives to people literally fighting for survival.”

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