Horne Creek Farm Takes Heritage Apple Trees to City Kids

Students plant an apple tree sapling

When students return to Kimberly Park Elementary School in Winston-Salem this school year, they will have visible reminders of a project that brought the farm to the city. Theirs was the first school to participate in the “Instructional Heirloom Apple Orchard for Schools” program established by Horne Creek Living Historical Farm in Pinnacle.

“Today, when school kids visit Horne Creek Farm and are asked ‘Where does food come from?’ the answers we typically receive are, ‘from the refrigerator,’ or ‘from the grocery store,’ or as one five-year-old emphatically replied, ‘from McDonalds of course,’” explains Horne Creek Site Manager Lisa Turney.

Nearly 90 percent of North Carolinians were classified as farmers in 1900, and virtually everyone had a garden for their household. That experience for families today is increasingly rare.

In 2018 the Horne Creek staff instituted the orchard program for schools to allow the site to further spread the heirloom apple varieties grown in its Southern Heritage Apple Orchard, promote the site, educate children about food production and to provide them with the enjoyment of fruit produced by their own hands. The program will be a competitive one for teachers and schools going forward.

“The staff wanted the first school to be a Title I local school from an urban environment that had a relationship with Horne Creek Farm. Kimberly Park Elementary School in Winston-Salem fit those requirements,” Turney explains. “Mrs. Vanessa Flynt has brought students from the school to Horne Creek for hands-on experiences for many years.”

This past April, Turney contacted school officials and informed them of the award. The heritage apples they would share are from among 400 varieties of old Southern apples once commonly grown in the South. The varieties were a gift to the farm from Lee Calhoun, author of “Old Southern Apples.” When selecting the varieties for the school, Turney and site horticulturist Jason Bowen chose Calhoun’s favorite variety, the Blacktwig, along with the Carolina Red June and two Limbertwig varieties.

“The kids loved it, they were so excited,” Turney recalls. “They promised to take care of the trees. One youngster even said he would come water the trees during the summer, and he has.”

Approximately 20 enthusiastic students joined Horne Creek personnel and teacher Flynt to plant the trees. Planting day was April 14, during the school’s annual clean-up. One tree was planted on the playground for younger children, two in the playground for older children and one in a community garden.

“The heirloom apple trees donated by Horne Creek Farm are a great contribution to our school and community,” observes Assistant Principal Janel Sharpe. “Not only will the trees serve as an instructional resource, but they will teach our students responsibility and hard work.”

Future schools will be selected for participation based on entries from teachers that explain why their school should be selected and the resources they have to keep the trees alive and well. Horne Creek Farm will do a call for submissions in late October, with an application deadline of Dec.15, 2018.

For additional information, please call (336) 325-2298. Horne Creek Farm is located at 308 Horne Creek Farm Rd., Pinnacle, N.C. It is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of  Natural and Cultural Resources.

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