Skidompha Library’s Chats with Champions will feature John Bunker, Maine’s own heritage apple expert, during an online chat at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Bunker will talk about “The Maine Heritage Orchard — What is it and why should we care,” according to a news release from Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta.

John Bunker Photo courtesy of Skidompha Public Library

During the 19th century hundreds of apple varieties were grown in Maine. By the early 20th century small diversified farms, with 10 or 20 apple trees, had given way to large orchards of Macintosh and Cortlands. Apples arrived with the first Europeans more than 400 years ago and are part of Maine’s heritage. We can learn a great deal about our ancestors by growing their trees and eating the fruit they selected, named, and handed down to us. Preservationists are now racing against time to save the last of these lost varieties before they are gone forever.

For almost 50 years, Bunker, a pomologist, has been pulling over by the side of the road to marvel at ancient apple trees, has picked his way through old books and diaries, hung out with old timers, grafted new trees, and made lots of pies, sauce and cider in his quest to re-discover the identity of the forgotten apple varieties of Maine.

To preserve these heritage apple varieties, he created the Maine Heritage Orchard at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners farm in Unity with the support of Russell Libby, MOFGA’s director.

Bunker’s book, “Apples and the Art of Detection,” about the old varieties and why we should rescue them, is told as a detective story with photographs and artwork galore. It is illustrated by the author himself. The book is available to purchase at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop.

To register, visit skidompha.org.

Chats with Champions is a free community offering from by the national award-winning Skidompha Library at 184 Main St. This program is sponsored by Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop.

For more information, call the Library at 207-563-5513.