A Brief History of Litchfield Apples
By Gavi Klein
There was a time in Litchfield when it was considered a poor decision to buy a home that did not come with its very own orchard. A lofty goal, in today’s economy, but back in colonial times, Litchfielders and beyond—most of New England, in fact—depended on the production of fruit trees to live. Curiously, the culprit driving the widespread production of fruit and apples was the lack of safe water in New England at the time; water sources were often contaminated and unsafe to drink, so a reliable solution became to forgo those questionable fluids altogether, and turn to cider, instead. “They would plant large enough orchards so that there would be 50 gallons per person in storage for their use throughout the year,” says Peter Montgomery, a Litchfield orchard-expert and orchard tender himself. “When you look at Litchfield County, everyone that had a colonial property had fruit trees.” With the coming of safe water systems and filtration, many of these Litchfield trees have since died off. Apple picking, of course, remains a beloved New England fall tradition, but it is clearly nothing like it was back in the day. Montgomery aims to bring about a renaissance of orchards in Litchfield. He strives to empower people to revive their orchards, and maybe even take up cider-making, just like our colonial ancestors before us.
Montgomery Gardens, LLC