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 five Presidia in the United States, sharing the bounty of the West County with our neighboring Slow Food Presidium, the Bodega Red Potato.
The Gravenstein is a delicious and versatile apple with a long and illustrious history here. It is a significant part of our cultural and agricultural heritage. From the 1940s to the 1970s, Sonoma County was the Gravenstein capital of the world. In recent decades, Gravensteins and Sebastopol apple farms were at risk of becoming commercially extinct. In 2002, Slow Food Russian River, with the support of Slow Food International, became actively involved in helping to promote and preserve them.
Working with farmers, processors, and local community leaders, farmers’ markets and chefs, the Russian River 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 Slow Food Russian River, known as the Apple Core, creatively builds demand for all local apples and apple products in order to: save the Gravenstein apple, support Sonoma County apple farmers, support diversified agriculture, strengthen community, and celebrate our local apple heritage. Help us keep the Gravensteins growing by buying local apples in season, and by joining the Apple Core.
For the past six years, the Apple Core has operated the Sebastopol Community Apple Press at the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol during apple season – from August through October – as a community service. Based on what we now know about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that we will operate the Community Apple Press in 2020.
If you want to join the Apple Core, or have questions or comments about the Sebastopol Community Apple Press and how we will celebrate the Gravenstein this year, feel free to contact us.
If you are interested in more about Gravenstein apples, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Golden State 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, clean up, and make it all so much fun.