Nick Botner and his wife Carla own a farm in Yoncalla, Oregon where Nick has indulged his passion for collecting different fruit tree varieties for over 30 years. His hobby has resulted in over 4,500 different apple varieties, among those are a multitude of heirloom and rare cultivars. Nick's is the largest private collection of apple trees in the United States. In addition to the apples, he has a large number of cherries, plums, pears and grapes. As he approaches his 90th year, Nick and Carla have listed their farm and are contemplating a move to a smaller location that does not involve so much work.
Nick has been a generous supporter of the Home Orchard Society (HOS) in Portland, Oregon for many, many years. He is a dear friend of the TOC founders and of all the "old timers" (and some not so old too) in HOS. In an effort to preserve this one–of–a–kind gem, Nick has given TOC permission to clone his collection. His beautiful farm is geographically too far from the northern Willamette Valley where TOC's resources will be accessible to a large population of dedicated volunteers who will help with the operations and maintenance of the property.
The impending loss of the Botner farm and orchard was the impetus for the Temperate Orchard Conservancy project. In January 2011, we began collecting scions and grafting trees. Since then, each winter we have collected more scions and each spring we have grafted, and grafted and grafted. So far, 3,900 baby trees have survived and been planted in the Marion Dunlap Block (the nursery) at Almaty Farm. Another 1,300+ are in one–gallon pots, under shade cloth, getting lots of TLC.
A million thanks to our friends Nick and Carla Botner. Their gift is immeasurable.
We are working on the inventory of trees, recording name of variety, date grafted, rootstock used and the location of the source material. We plan on using a scanning mechanism and type of barcode system to identify each tree in the orchard, making available all the data entered for each tree.
Many of us share Nick's enthusiasm for collecting fruit tree varieties. We are turning our passion into a permanent conservancy of tree fruits, for their genetic testing and research, and, most importantly, for their preservation.
Using the cloned Botner collection as a beginning, Temperate Orchard Conservancy will continue to collect fruit tree specimens that grow in the temperate climate zones of the United Sates and in other temperate areas of the world.