Next Up: Bookstores and Garden Center

The view from the University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo, from 'Apples of New England')

The view from the University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo, from ‘Apples of New England’)

Apples of New England, by Russell Steven PowellUPCOMING in December and scheduled in the new year so far are three events:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. I will discuss apples, answer questions, and sign copies of Apples of New England at Barnes and Noble, Mountain Farms Mall, Hadley, Massachusetts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015, at 7 p.m., I will give a reading and sign books at Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015, at 1 p.m., I will give a presentation on apples at Hadley Garden Center, 285 Russell St. (Route 9), Hadley, Massachusetts.

*          *          *

Saturday, December 6 I will be a judge at the Heritage Recipe Baking Contest co-sponsored by Historic Deerfield and King Arthur Flour at Hall Tavern, at Historic Deerfield, 84 Old Main Street, Deerfield, Massachusetts. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m.

Follow the link for rules and an entry form. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, November 26.

*          *          *


To schedule an appearance, write to

*          *          *

APPLES OF NEW ENGLAND has been well received to date. Here are excerpts from and links to a few recent reviews and articles:

“Like Thoreau and Chapman, Powell knows his apples. Like them, too, he is fundamentally an apple romantic. He writes eloquently and passionately about the lure of this ordinary yet infinitely appealing fruit.”

At its core, book eloquently pays homage to apples, The Recorder, Greenfield, Mass., December 5, 2014

“Powell’s guidebook is packed with information about each variety, from the ‘superstar’ Honeycrisp eating apple to the great keeper, Fuji. … From Winter Banana and Sheep’s Nose to Black Oxford and Hubbardston Nonesuch, and from Nodhead to Cathead, Powell’s guidebook abounds with stories.”

He’s an apostle for the American apple, The Recorder, Greenfield, Mass., November 17, 2014

“Powell dives deep into the subject, sharing facts about growing and using the fruit to how they connect us to our past.” 

Author is sweet on apples, Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Worcester, Mass., November 9, 2014

“Readers who mostly know this fruit from their supermarket may be surprised to see how many varieties there are.”

Book Notes, The Salem News, Salem, Mass., October 25, 2014

“Apples of New England reflects a contemplative and literary approach to landscape, agriculture and the apple’s role both as fruit and symbol.”

Bookbag, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Mass., October 10, 2014

“Apple fans have a new resource to expand their appreciation of the fruit.”

Apple guide makes picking out fall’s iconic fruit easy, The Herald News, Fall River, Mass., October 22, 2014

“How much do you really know about these fruits? With this book, you’ll learn a lot more. … Colorfully illustrated.”

Bookshelf, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass., October 5, 2014

“I discovered Powell’s book on my desk when I came to work Monday. It wasn’t there when I left late Sunday night, which means only one thing: the book fairy came sometime in the wee hours of the morning. Way better than the tooth fairy.”

Apples of my eye, The Daily Item, Lynn, Mass., October 1, 2014

“Powell, former executive director of the New England Apple Association, gets into the nitty gritty … describing more than 200 apple varieties found in New England, and sets out the history of the apple in the region in a detailed way.”

Books offer taste of a juicy history, The Valley News, West Lebanon, New Hampshire, September 20, 2014


Current Book Tour For ‘Apples of New England’

Spencer apple tree, The Big Apple, Wrentham., Massachusetts, from 'Apples Of New England' (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Spencer apple tree, The Big Apple, Wrentham, Massachusetts, from ‘Apples Of New England’                           (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Apples of New England, by Russell Steven PowellI WILL BE READING from and signing copies of Apples of New England (Countryman Press, 2014) at a number of events during the fall of 2014 and winter 2015.

Apples of New England, a history of apple growing in the region, includes photographs by Bar Lois Weeks and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in New England.

To schedule an appearance, email me at

Here is the current lineup:

Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m.

Topsfield Town Library

1 South Common St.

Topsfield, Massachusetts


Wednesday, March 25, 6:30 p.m.

South Hadley Public Library

2 Canal St.

South Hadley, Massachusetts


Saturday, February 21, 1 p.m.

Hadley Garden Center

285 Russell St., Route 9

Hadley, Massachusetts



Thursday, January 22, 7 p.m.

Porter Square Books

25 White St., Cambridge, Massachusetts


Sunday, November 23, 10 a.m.

Tags Hardware

Porter Square Shopping Center

29 White St., Cambridge, Massachusetts


 Sunday, November 2, 10 a.m.

Clarkdale Fruit Farms

303 Upper Rd., Deerfield, Massachusetts


Saturday, November 1, 2 p.m.

Atkins Farms

1150 West St., Amherst, Massachusetts


 Saturday, November 1, 10 a.m.

Pine Hill Orchards

248 Greenfield Rd., Colrain, Massachusetts


Sunday, October 26, 2 p.m.

River Valley Market

330 North King St., Northampton, Massachusetts


Saturday, October 25, 2 p.m.

White Memorial Conservation Center

80 Whitehall Rd., Litchfield, Connecticut


Friday, October 24, 1 p.m.

Lyman Orchards

32 Reeds Gap Rd., Middlefield, Connecticut


 Wednesday, October 22, 7 p.m.

Goodwin Memorial Library

50 Middle St., Hadley, Massachusetts


Saturday, October 18, 10 a.m.

Mount Wachusett AppleFest

490 Mountain Rd, Princeton, Massachusetts


Tuesday, October 14, 7:30 p.m.

Williamsburg Historical Society

4 North Main St., Williamsburg, Massachusetts


 Monday, October 13, 11 a.m.

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm

366 Boothby Rd., Livermore, Maine


Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.

Historic Deerfield

80 Old Main St., Deerfield, Massachusetts


 Sunday, October 5, 12:30 p.m.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

11 French Dr., Boylston, Massachusetts


Saturday, October 4, 1 p.m.

Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

Wales Rd., Monson, Massachusetts


 Friday, September 12, through Sunday, September 28, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

New England Apple Association booth

Massachusetts Building, Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”)

1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, Massachusetts


Sunday, September 7, 1:30 p.m.

Keep Homestead Museum

35 Ely Road, Monson, Massachusetts

Sex And Graft

IMG_2609BEGINNING TODAY and for the next two weeks, the e-book of America’s Apple can be downloaded for the discounted price of $2.99 (regularly $9.99). The e-book can be purchased through Amazon for Kindle or as a Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book. The hardcover is available through these sites, numerous bookstores and orchard stores, and Silver Street Media.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1, “Sex and Graft (the art of growing apples)”:

A word of caution to those entering an apple orchard for the first time: the experience can be overwhelming. Apples are seductive; anyone who has ever spent time where apples are grown knows why they symbolize temptation in the story of Adam and Eve. Apples are irresistible, appealing to all the senses.

The sheer scale and conceit of the orchard is impressive, humans harnessing nature’s wildness in a symmetrical, leafy grid. Even dwarf trees tower over the average person, and standard-size trees, while planted rarely these days, still dominate many orchards. Their 15- to 30-foot canopies gently swallow up the visitor in a colorful, symmetrical forest running up hills or down gentle slopes, often continuing as far as the eye can see.

Entering the orchard is like walking into a well-proportioned painting, with the view broken into three roughly equal horizontal bands. Beneath your feet are the mixed greens of grasses carpeting the orchard floor; above is blue sky. The middle is dominated by the deep, dense greens of the trees, and from this leafy sea bursts thousands of pieces of round and oblong fruit in hues ranging from burgundy to gold to lime. Some apples are a single, solid color, some striped or russeted (having a brownish skin and rough texture), and many are a kaleidoscopic mix of shades. Many orchards are planted high on hillsides; when you look up from picking you take in a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

If the orchard experience were strictly visual, its grandeur alone would captivate. But these orderly rows of apple trees work on all the senses. The orchard is a quiet place. Noise is muffled within the confines of grass and trees, distant from traffic. The main sound is the trilling and chirping of songbirds. The orchard invites contemplation.

The fragrance is intoxicating. While some apple varieties are more aromatic than others, the collective scent transmitted by thousands of pieces of hanging fruit, mixed with soil and fresh air, is an olfactory rush.

The best is yet to come: the tactile pleasure as your hand reaches around a ripe apple and twists it gently off the tree. When you sink your teeth into the apple with a loud, satisfying crunch, it is as if all the orchard’s sensory pleasures are distilled in that single bite: the soft crunch, the heady aroma, the explosion of flavors, the rush of juice, the intense, brilliant colors of the outer skin contrasting with the creamy white, yellow, or lime-green flesh. 

E-Book Sale Begins August 15

Jeff and Jennifer Crist of Crist Brothers Orchards, Walden, New York (photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)

Jeff and Jennifer Crist of Crist Brothers Orchards, Walden, New York (photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)

Jim Hill, Hill Brothers Orchard, Alpine Township, Michigan (photograph by Russell Steven Powell)

Jim Hill, Hill Brothers Orchard, Alpine Township, Michigan (photograph by Russell Steven Powell)

TO CELEBRATE the 2013 fresh apple harvest and make America’s Apple more accessible, I will be launching a one-time e-book sale beginning this Friday, August 15. For a two-week period ending August 29, people will be able to download the e-book version of America’s Apple for just $2.99 instead of its regular price of $9.99.

The e-book will be available at the discounted price through Amazon’s Kindle or as a Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book. The hardcover is available through these sites, numerous bookstores and orchard stores, and Silver Street Media.

Evan Darrow, Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont (photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)

Evan Darrow, Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont (photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)

Anyone with an interest in apples and agriculture will find this an interesting read. Stories about the people who grow apples are interspersed among chapters on apple horticulture, history, culinary uses, and more — including a fresh look at John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed), and some of the challenging issues confronting modern agricultures, from labor to food safety.

America’s Apple includes an illustrated index of 120 apple varieties grown in the United States, and nearly 50 four-color photographs from America’s orchards by Bar Lois Weeks.

For more information, write to

Roadside stand near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)

Roadside stand near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Photograph by Bar Lois Weeks)