top of page

Plant A Tree for Chatham 250

Plant a tree to celebrate Chatham County’s 250th anniversary and preserve a unique piece of Chatham County’s history in your own backyard!

Chatham 250 partnered with Century Farm Orchards to offer a special Chatham 250 bundle of heirloom old southern Apple Trees. Each bundle will include one Aunt Rachel tree -- a rare local variety of apple tree that originated in Chatham County and is deeply tied to the legacy of heirloom old southern apple trees expert and late Chatham County resident Lee Calhoun; and one heirloom old southern pollinator apple tree of the purchasers choice (subject to availability). The pollinators available will likely be Carolina Red June, Magnum Bonum, American Golden Russet, HorseSummer Banana, and Grimes Golden.

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 5.18.32 PM.png

(Photo Courtesy of Century Farm Orchards) 


Chatham 250 Webinar: Growing and Appreciating Chatham 250 Apple Trees

Matt Jones and Debbie Roos, Extension Agents with N.C. Cooperative Extension – Chatham County Center, a webinar to appreciate and care for the Chatham 250 heirloom old southern apple trees on Thursday, October 28th from 6 - 7:30 PM. The webinar covered general apple-growing practices, including site preparation and planting, training and pruning, and pest and disease management. Additionally, learn about the history and significance of the Aunt Rachel Apple Tree to Chatham County, and significance of southern heritage cultivars more broadly.

If you have questions about your Chatham 250 Apple Trees, please contact Matt Jones ( or Debbie Roos (

More about Aunt Rachel Apple Trees:  

This apple is a local variety originating in Chatham County, NC. The late Lee Calhoun, a nationally recognized Southern Old Apple expert Lee Calhoun and proud Chatham County resident, has helped to spread this little-known apple across North Carolina. The tree is disease resistant, a fast grower, and its limb structure is such that pruning is made much easier.  The tree begins to fruit early, producing excellent apples of good size. The apples are red with darker stripes. The flesh is white, firm, mildly tart, and juicy. It is good for eating and cooking. It ripens over a period of several weeks in late July and early August.

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 5.26.13 PM.png

(Photo Courtesy of Century Farm Orchards) 

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 5.26.18 PM.png

(Photo Courtesy of Century Farm Orchards) 

More about Century Farm Orchards

Century Farm Orchards is a small, family owned and operated nursery specializing in old southern apples located in Caswell County. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture has recognized this farm as having remained in my family for over one hundred years, hence the name Century Farm Orchards.

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 5.28.35 PM.png

(Photo Courtesy of Century Farm Orchards) 

David Vernon of Century Farm Orchards is helping to preserve apples that were once widely grown in the southern United States from the 1600’s to the early 1900’s. Southern farm families grew apples that displayed distinctive qualities. Some were good for eating fresh from the tree, some for cooking, some for drying, some for cider, and others were unique for their ripening period or keeping ability. These apples were important because they were good producers in the warm, humid climate of the South. It is unfortunate that many old southern apples are now extinct, disappearing with family farms that once dotted the landscape. It is the intention of Century Farm Orchards to cultivate old southern apples that are still available today and provide others with the opportunity to grow the apples that older generations grew for necessity.

Learn more about David Vernon and Century Farm Orchards by watching this local news video story (January, 2020) or read this Our State magazine article .

More about Lee Calhoun:

Lee Calhoun is considered the Savior of Southern Apples. A Chatham County resident for many years, Lee Calhnoun was an expert in heirloom old southern apple trees and wrote a very popular but now out-of-print book, Old Southern Apples, which gives the history of over 1,600 distinct southern apple varieties. Lee Calhoun sadly passed away in 2020, but leaves a long and vibrant legacy in Chatham County and across the American South.

Learn more about Lee Calhoun by:

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 5.30.36 PM.png

(Photo Credit: The Local Palate) 

bottom of page