The Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple Presidium
The international Slow Food movement is committed to preserving biodiversity and regionally important foods all over the world.
One way it does that is to establish local projects, known as “Presidia,” that work to guarantee a viable future for foods that are “traditional, good tasting, sustainably produced, and represent a sense of place or culture.” Sonoma County’s Gravenstein apple meets all of these criteria and is one of only four Presidia foods in the United States.
The Gravenstein is a delicious apple with a long and illustrious history here. It is a significant part of our cultural and agricultural heritage. From the 1940’s to the 1970’s Sonoma County was the Gravenstein capital of the world. In recent decades Gravensteins, and the Sebastopol apple farms, were at risk of becoming commercially extinct. In 2002 Slow Food Russian River (SFRR) and the international Slow Food movement became actively involved in helping to promote and preserve them.
Working with farmers, processors, and local community leaders, farmers’ markets and chefs, the SFRR chapter is helping to develop high-value marketing channels for the Gravenstein, and increasing awareness in the Bay Area and beyond of the value of buying and eating this special apple and all the other apple varieties grown in Sonoma County. We are actively working to safeguard the future of the apple and the livelihood of those who grow it.
The Apple Core
A merry group of volunteers of SFRR, the “Apple Core,” shares information and serves fresh pressed juice at local farmers’ markets, the Gravenstein Apple Fair, and at local elementary schools. You can help preserve our heritage by buying local apples in season, and by joining the Apple Core.
Slow Food Russian River operates a Community Apple Press from August through October at the Luther Burbank Experiment Farm in Sebastopol.
If you want to join the Apple Core, or have questions or comments about the Sebastopol Community Apple Press, feel free to contact us.
Free Apple Program
Free Gravensteins are available during the season at these two locations:
Tasting Fresh Sebastopol Gravenstein Apple Juice
The Apple Core provides information about the Save the Gravenstein campaign and serves tastings of freshly pressed Gravenstein apple juice at:
• Sebastopol Farmers Market on the Sebastopol Plaza in Sebastopol
• Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol on the second weekend of August
• The Luther Burbank Experiment Farm at 7777 Bodega Highway in Sebastopol, weekends in August, September, and October
If you wish to volunteer for these events, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the dates you can help.
We have collected a number of resources for you:
• Apples of Sonoma County: A handy list of most of the apples grown in Sonoma County, with taste notes and information how you can use the apple, as a fresh hand apple, for juicing, for baking, and for baking. And we’re playing favorites!
• Sonoma County Apple Growers, U-Picks, Apple Artisans, and Cider Makers: A list and a map of where you can find all these great apples and apple products.
We’d like to thank the following for their support in making the Press a successful operation in prior years:
- The Western Sonoma County Historical Society and the Farm Committee of the Luther Burbank Experiment Farm, for hosting us at the lovely Farm
- The City of Sebastopol, for financial support
- The County of Sonoma, for financial support
- Ellen Cavalli and Scott Heath of Tilted Shed Ciderworks, for the use of the workhorse of a press
- Jolie Devoto and Hunter Wade of Devoto Orchards Cider, for making and selling a special cider to benefit our work
- Paul Berg and Bob Barclay of RussianRiver.TV, for creating a beautiful video of the apple pressing process
- Andrei Pasternak, for incomparable graphic design work and website admin
- Karen Preuss, for her photographs
- Edie Otis and Tom Pringle, for making their presses available
- The many volunteers, too numerous to mention by name, who set up, press, and clean up, and make it all so much fun.