5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

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Courtesy photo
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David Benscoter, who located the trees, stands by a century-old apple tree on an abandoned homestead near Steptoe Butte, in this 2014 file photo. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 06 March 2018
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5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

LEWISTON, Idaho: Five types of apples, once thought to be extinct, have been rediscovered in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
The Lewiston Tribune newspaper reported Monday that “apple detective” David Benscoter located the trees growing near a butte in the rolling hills of the vast Palouse agricultural area.
Benscoter worked with apple experts at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon and Fedco Seeds in Maine to positively identify the apple types. They were compared to written descriptions from old books and antique watercolor paintings.
The newly rediscovered apples include the Shackleford, Saxon Priest, Kittageskee, Ewalt and McAffee varietals. An estimated 17,000 named apple varieties are thought to have originated in North America, but Benscoter says only about 4,000 still exist today.
“I just love the history of these old apples and what they meant to the first homesteaders that arrived here in eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” Benscoter said. “The apple was the most important fruit you could have, and it could be used in so many ways.”
He first became interested in hunting down the almost-gone and nearly forgotten fruit when he helped a neighbor with chores on her property. He found an old apple tree and began to search the Internet to try to figure out what variety it bore.
By checking old county fair records in Whitman County, Washington, he discovered several apple types that were listed as extinct.
Since that time, he has discovered more than 20 varieties of apples that were once considered lost. He’s hoping area residents will let him know if they have old apple trees in neglected orchards or growing in back fields that he can examine.
“Those apples have been forgotten about in the back of someone’s field or an old orchard nobody has taken care of in a hundred years,” Benscoter said. “I’m hopeful, and obviously the search has been somewhat successful, and so I think there are still many apples out there that can be found.”
Apples have as many 50 different identifiers, including stem length, shape, size, color and structure.
Benscoter thinks he’s found an additional seven apples in the region that were also thought to be extinct or extremely rare, but they have yet to be confirmed.
Those include the Autumn Gray, Surprise No. 1, Flushing Spitzenburg, Republican Pippin, Bogdanoff Glass, Flory and Early Colton.
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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com


Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

Updated 13 June 2018
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Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

  • A team of volunteers collect unwanted food from lavish Ramadan buffets
  • Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago

AMMAN: At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman’s five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families.
Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago, angered by the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region.
“What we do is eliminate this waste, we salvage the food and provide it to people who are in desperate need of it,” said Sharif, a 33-year-old teacher.
His team of volunteers now works all year round to collect unwanted food from large wedding parties, bakeries and restaurants.
This year the initiative has focused on the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, one of the depressed areas in a country that has seen some of the biggest protests in years this month over steep price hikes, which are backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Critics say the price hikes are to blame for rising poverty in Jordan.
Family Kitchen’s initiative this year provides ‘iftar’ meals — eaten by Muslims after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan — to 500 families in the impoverished refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman.
A third of the camp’s 120,000 residents have an income below the national poverty line and around 17 percent are unemployed, the UN refugee body says.
“Our families are very poor, there is a lot of poverty in the community, so they need this support, they need these meals in order to ensure that they have food the next day,” said Kifah Khamis, who runs a charity in the sprawling camp.
One camp resident, Um Thair, a mother of four, said she could not have coped without the meals delivered to her family.
“I was able to save money. During Ramadan I didn’t have to buy a lot of food or shop a lot, we got most of our meals from the charity, we would come everyday and get our iftar meal,” she said.