When you reach retirement, you usually turn to traveling, spending time with your grandchildren. Moreover, one group of retirees is spending their free time scouring America looking for homesteads. They are also hoping to rediscover common crops.

Good Samaritans on the hunt for lost apple species

This group has been searching the Pacific Northwest for abandoned pioneer-era fruit orchards. They have successfully discovered numerous lost species of apples. The group that includes EJ Brandt and former FBI agent David Benscoter became amateur botanists for their nonprofit, the Lost Apple Project.

Smithsonian Magazine reports that they discovered the apples in Genesee, Idaho. The discovery led the group discovering 10 forgotten apple species that were once believed to be extinct.

Retirees sleuthing could serve as a great History Channel documentary

Their apple sleuthing is worthy of a documentary, as it involves hunting lost orchards in the forests, mountains, and canyons relying only on newspaper clippings, old maps, county fair records and nursery sales ledgers that contain records of homesteaders purchasing trees to begin their orchards with. The ledgers often contain some information on the buyer, which can help triangulate a possible orchard location.


Once an apple orchard location is discovered, they will tag it with a GPS pin, ribbon the old apple trees. They then bag whatever specimens they find to be shipped off. They are sent to the experts at the Temperate Orchard Conservatory.

The Lost Apple Project believes that many hundreds of these varieties were planted by settlers. The experts use old botany textbooks and watercolor illustrations of apples made by the Department of Agriculture in the 1800s to confirm the varieties’ identities.

According to USA Today, scientists at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research Center in Wenatchee spent 20 years breeding and tinkering around to get the desired apple tree seeds.

Like most of us, you probably can’t name more than ten different types of apples. It’s amazing there are so many varieties available today. What’s more amazing is the people care enough about them to commit their time to help them thrive. This group is certainly doing good. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Lawrence Lease

Lawrence Lease is a freelance writer and screenwriter. His work can be seen on Cinema Gold, Blasting News and The Washington Ledger. He is a proud cinephile and movie trivia fan.

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