New Look, New Subtitle

I created American Orchard in the wake of the publication of my book, Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard (Johns Hopkins, 2013), and envisioned it as a place to share stories and excerpts from the book, as well as many of the interesting tangents and stories which were excised from that book as I sought to preserve a more focused narrative. In the year and a half since the publication of Johnny Appleseed I have continued to explore themes related to apples and other orchard crops, but have felt constrained by the original subtitle of this blog: “A blog about eating, drinking, sharing, and stealing apples.”  I am excited about my next project, a more comprehensive history of the apple in America, which will be unconstrained by the narrative of one man’s life (and trajectory of his myth in this afterlife) and allow me to explore more broadly the role orchard agriculture has played, and continues to play in this history of the United States, from northern New England to the Southern Hill Country, as well as from the highlands of New Mexico to the high plains of eastern Washington. Furthermore, as a professor at a small liberal arts college, it is neither my purview nor desire to constrain my historical interests too narrowly, so I intend to explore subjects pertaining to my broad teaching fields in American History, especially American Environmental History in American Orchard version 2.0. The new subtitle, “Historical perspectives on food, farming, and landscape,” will serve as the new broader boundaries of this blog,and I look forward to sharing with you perspectives and insights that come from my research as well as the material I am teaching in my classes. I am currently working on a chapter on the transformation of the apple industry in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in the early decades of the twentieth century, so questions surrounding orchards and labor are foremost in my mind, which explains the picture I am currently using for a header. But expect to find more than just apples on this blog. I intend to write about Americans’ relationship with trees, both wild and cultivated, about changing American diet and foodways, about the ways in which capitalism continues to transform food production, and controversies over pesticides, genetic modification, and globalization, often, but not always, using the orchard fruit industry as a lens for viewing these issues.

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