There’s something new at R.J. Haney Heritage Village!

It started as a dream on paper. When the organization’s Site Development Committee met several years ago, it agreed to hire Cuyler Page to design the residential district for the site. We needed a plan for the buildings that had been offered to the Village. The first was the Pidhirney House, a one and a half storey home from across the tracks on Fraser Avenue. Next was the Laitinen home, a sweet little log cabin that our very own Vera Halpenny lived in on Broadview–built after Vera married Albert Laitinen, the fellow who picked her up at the station when she arrived in Salmon Arm fresh out of Normal School.

Cuyler put his thinking cap on and created a development plan for the homes. He plotted them on paper, adding the “Salmon Valley Homestead” that came from Harbell Road on the Minion property. That homestead was paired with the Peterson Barn because it had similar sized logs and both were constructed in the typical Finnish style. They looked like they belonged together.

What else was needed? An orchard of course! So we could tell the story of the fruit industry that once dominated the landscape of our community.

Several years later, Len Lazzarotto called. He had an idea. He’d been exploring the possibility of grafting old varieties of heritage apples from properties in this area. He and a friend thought they’d found a wild Turner Red Delicious apple tree above the Podollan Inn. On a hunch, he contacted Janice and Glenna, Turner’s granddaughters. They said the apple Len found tasted right. They said the location was right – Len had found it on one of the old Turner holdings. Len had found the right apple tree!

Len contacted Jed Wiebe, who has considerable experience grafting scions, second year growth, to rootstock purchased from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery. “Rootstock is the lower part of an apple tree, on which a different apple variety, the scion, is grafted. The rootstock determines many of the tree’s characteristics, while the scion determines the type of apple the tree will bear.”1.  Len asked for a list of heritage varieties of apples and reached out to people who had old apple orchards. He consulted with Allan Peterson, a third generation Peterson of Peterson’s Orchards.

Len ordered rootstock in November. Scions were harvested in February and placed in a refrigerator. Len and Jed patiently waited for the order to arrive.

There was a flurry of activity when it finally did. The orchard was plotted. The curator in me wanted it to look like the orchards I’d seen in archival aerial photographs–like quilts or postage stamps dotting the landscape of historic Salmon Arm.

According to Jed, the rootstock had to be planted when the Saskatoon Bushes flowered. The weather seemed to turn hot and cold but then it was finally time. Jed grafted the trees in his shop, attaching the scions with precision. He wound the incisions with an elastic band, coated each one in wax, and placed the roots gently into a bucket with damp sawdust.

A group of volunteers cut the turf in three foot circles, and dug into the soil. President Norma Harisch, also a third generation Peterson fruit farmer, was pleased with the soil – no rocks!

Unlike historic farmers, Len Lazzarotto consulted the weather network. Wednesday was supposed to rain. It would be a good day to plant trees.

Jed arrived with the trees. The site was prepared for planting. Bland’s Farm & Garden supplied its special top soil containing composted chicken manure to augment Mr. Haney’s sandy soil. Norma added a mixture of bone meal and a lot of water, readying each hole for its tree.

It didn’t take long to plant the 12 rootstock so the group stopped for a photo. We were changing the landscape at the Village and adding to the stories we will tell!
“Now all we have to do is watch them grow,” Norma said. That and water to establish the trees, prune them, and take care of their needs.

 












 

 

 

 

Thank you extraordinary volunteers Len, Jed, and Norma.

Postscript:

Later that week Norma organized a work party to build cages for the rootstock. The deer just love to nibble and we plan on dissuading them!

Thank you Bill Harisch, Doug Hlina, Bryan Kassa, and Ian Tait for that work!

And now a word about our sponsors: Thank you to the Shuswap Community Foundation, and the Turner Orchards Endowment for funding this project in perpetuity! Robert Turner’s Red Delicious apple and others will be a living history museum for future generations.




Footnote: 

1. https://orchardpeople.com/apple-tree-rootstocks/#::text=Apple%20tree%20rootstock%20refers%20to,fruit%20the%20tree%20will%20bear.