he Finger Lakes region has a long heritage of fruit production. The moderating effect of the lakes is well known for its creation of favorable micro-climates for grape-growing. When Sullivan’s troops marched through the area, they found peach orchards cultivated by the Seneca Nation. Early American settlers planted apple orchards on their small farms to provide food and drink for their families. Cornell University’s world renowned research station at Geneva maintains, studies, and experiments with old and new fruit varieties. Cherries remain a local U-pick favorite, gone before the uninitiated even know the harvest has begun. And old berry evaporators sit by the side of the road, a testament to a once profitable industry. The arts, crafts, and traditions related to fruit cultivation have shaped our region’s landscape and continue to influence seasonal customs and local industries today.
Beginning with apples, and eventually moving to other fruits, the Finger Lakes Fruit Heritage Project will document the history and creativity of this agricultural art form. Cider making, orchards, fruit, u-pick, cider mills, festivals, foodways, fermentation, preserving, grafting, old varieties, migrant labor, landscapes, artists, agriculturalists, musicians, and more are topics of interest! This is a new research project, and we welcome input from the community. We need your knowledge and expertise on this topic. Eventually, we hope to create cultural programming based on our research. This could include museum or gallery exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, and collaborations with existing artists, agriculturalists, and producers. Do you have an idea, or knowledge to share? Please contribute! See our Events and Research pages for more information about how to participate.