There is nothing better than a good story about people and plants. If you like to read about plants, people and history too, consider reading The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became The Big Apple by A.L. DuBois.
DuBois is a native New Yorker and a botanical artist who first learned about New York’s agricultural history when she moved to the Hudson Valley after graduating from college. At this time, she also learned that her family is linked to the founding of Flushing, Queens, the first apple town in the United States. Research on her family and the history of New York revealed a lack of books linking the state’s apple history to it’s current history, so she decided to combine her passion for history with her passion for botanical art and write a book of her own.
In The Big Apples of New York, DuBois explains apple history and symbolism, how the apple was the first fruit tree imported by colonists and how New York state established itself as a major apple producing area. She writes about the Prince family nursery, the first commercial nursery in the New World, and the prominent Livingston family — their orchards, hardships, successes and their link to the historic Montgomery estate. She also explores the mystery surrounding the expression “The Big Apple” and its link to slavery and the Underground Railroad. Her historical account of events occurring before, during and after the Civil War is interesting, disturbing and will change how you view apples at the grocery store.
DuBois’ book is as much about the current state of apples in present-day New York as it is about its history.Garden historians, teachers, fruitarians, and anyone with an interest in apples will be pleased to learn that family-friendly events such as apple festivals are alive and well in New York. DuBois shares information about 9 festivals, one of which has an annual attendance approaching 70,000. She also shares how the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) honors the state’s apple history and discusses the orchard replenishment program by Slow Food NYC.
Included in The Big Apples are apple recipes for treats such as Apple Cobbler by the CIA and Fidget Pye, an apple, onion and bacon pie dating back to 1795. Also included are Apple Facts from the USDA, instructions about how to grow an apple tree from seed like the colonists once did, and a directory to 190 apple orchards in New York.
DuBois’ full-color botanical illustrations were created using watercolor, Derwent colored pencils and tempera paint. It took her more than two years to draw and paint the twenty-five varieties featured in her book.
The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became The Big Apple is a self-published title and can be ordered directly from the author for $30.99. Please allow one week for shipping.
DuBois, A.L. 2013. The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became The Big Apple.
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