The Apple Farm
“Apples have thrice the number of genes as humans, and the act of apple growing touches on every subject, from biology to ethics to economics”, writes Andy Brennan is his book, “Uncultivated”, the story of his life growing and foraging apples in the Catskills of North America.
Con Traas understands Brennan’s assertion better than almost anyone we know. Mr Traas has a scientist’s sense of enquiry, and an economist’s sense of scale, and he has a communitarian’s sense of people and place. He utilises these polymath potentials in the service of creating the perfect apple, and the perfect apple juice, and the perfect apple cider vinegar, all of which are grown and created on The Apple Farm, on the road between Cahir and Clonmel.
His family have been growing apples here for more than fifty years, starting at a time when other local farmers were uprooting their orchards. But Mr Traas knows the apple grower’s secret: there are perfect locales for growing apples – The Catskills is one, County Armagh is one – and the vales and valleys of Tipperary and Kilkenny are the perfect locale for growing superb apples. Apple Farm apples are not like other apples; they are superior, in every way, better to eat, and better to drink when the juice has been pressed.
If all Con Traas did was to grow apples, he would be acclaimed as one of Ireland’s greatest artisans. But, he is also an educator, putting his hard-won knowledge to use in projects like the darling Tipperary Food Tour book, where a gaggle of kids visit all the best Tipperary food artisans, including a visit to The Apple Farm. They pick apples with Con, learn all about the nature of apples, and bring a bunch of apples away with them to enjoy at the feast that evening. The book does what Con Traas is determined to do: to ensure that the apple falls as far from the tree as possible, thereby spreading apple wisdom as far as it can go.
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