Montana Heritage Orchard Program
The Montana Heritage Orchard program provides heritage orchards across Montana with resources to preserve their orchards, document Montana's fruit growing history and propagate heirloom and lost apple cultivars for backyard and commercial production. The program recognizes the value of these trees for the future of Montana fruit production and works with orchard owners to identify apples with unique qualities to be propagated for future production in areas across Montana building a more resilient food system.
How it works
We rely on orchard owners, Extension professionals and apple enthusiasts to let us know about heritage orchards around the state. To qualify as a heritage orchard, the orchard must have five or more trees older than 75 years. We are also interetsted in seedling trees, the offspring of heritage trees, that may be uniquely suited for dessert or cider apple production in Montana. If you know of an orchard or seedling tree with a special story, delicious or beautiful fruit or even downright bitter flavor please contact us and we can help you identify the tree, register it on the heritage orchard map and assist you with resources to preserve and manage the orchard.
Participating Heritage Orchards
There are currently over 70 registered Montana heritage orchards listed through the Montana Heritage Orchard program. The map below shows the general location of each orchard. Orchards on Montana State or Federal land are open to the public and include Wild Horse Island, Chief Plenty Coup State Park, Milltown State Park, Moon Randolph Homestead, and Woods Ranch. To register an orchard to be included on this map please contact us directly at 406-961-3025.
Heritage Orchard Management Resources
We are currently in the process of drafting a Montana Heritage Orchard Management Resource Guide to help owners evaluate the best way to manage their orchards and preserve this legacy of Montana's history. Additional resources forthcoming including an apple identification guide and a summary of Montana's Fruit Growing history. Please check back as these resources will be published online in Spring 2020.
Buy Heritage Trees
The program is supported by a tree propagation program. Trees are grafted from heritage orchards and seedling trees with unique characteristics desireable for the Montana grower including cold hardiness, short growing season requirements, evidence of fire blight resistence and delicious fruit. For a full catalog of trees propagated through the program visit our tree catalog at this link. Visit this link to view trees available in Spring 2020.