Katie Hargrave and Amber Ginsburg / A Proposal: Johnny Appleseed (Two Trees)
This long-term project aims to connect and visualize the shifting history and multiple understandings of Johnny Appleseed. We are planting two apple trees in cities across the United States, one from seed and a second from a graft of the supposed last remaining tree to have been planted by Johnny Appleseed. The differing growing techniques mirror the differing interpretations of Johnny Appleseed.
Between being born in Leominster, Massachusetts and dying in Fort Wayne, Indiana, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, appeared in myths across the United States and Canada; though it is commonly accepted that he is the father of orchards throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Johnny is part folk hero, war hero, Christian missionary, frontiersman, and entrepreneur. As the country has changed, so too has his memory. Johnny Appleseed embodies the American ethos of re-vamping and re-writing histories for public consumption.
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The two methods of propagation, from seed and by grafting, capture conflicting narratives about Johnny Appleseed. The seedling tree mimics the way in Johnny Appleseed actually propagated his trees. This method ensures biodiversity, as the seeds are poly-zygotes and house thousands of years of genetic information. Every tree planted from seed produces an offspring related to but unique from its parent. As the lore surround Johnny Appleseed began to shrink into a clean and tidy Disney package, so did the national apple supply. Epitomized by the Red Delicious, apples became predictable entities bred for color, size, and longevity, with taste coming only into question with relation to sweetness. The many uses of apples--cider, vinegar, dried, canned, sauced, as a savory flavor and an exotic one at that--shrank, as did the knowledge of these home based processes. The grafted apple tree will offer your community years of edible fruit straight from the tree. The seedling apples, most likely, can be harvested for tarter more exotic applications.
You receive the trees and the memorial marker, a link on our website to the other cities hosting the project, and two artists to plant, as well as provide information and demonstrations on apple related activities. For this project we have learned to dry, can, ferment, and forage. We will gladly share this knowledge in a public forum or through literature. For more information, please contact Amber or Katie at info (at) katiehargrave (dot) us
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