Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP) has worked for over a decade to preserve Colorado's fruit growing heritage and restore an orchard culture and economy to the southwestern region. With your generous support, MORP has documented nearly 500 varieties of apples that were planted in Colorado prior to 1930 - 50% are now considered functionally extinct. It has also compiled a list of 250 historic orchard sites located in Colorado. Of these, MORP has mapped and documented 111 sites containing 4,000 apple trees 80 to 135 years old. This survey work made it possible for MORP to submit apple leaf samples for identification by DNA testing to the USDA-Agriculture Research Station in Fort Collins, confirming 196 cultivars out of 490 samples. Results show that out of the 196 cultivars, 138 are rare and endangered genetics not located in national or private collections. It is also probable that many of these varieties represent historic named varieties that are considered lost.
Now that we have captured these rare and endangered genetics it is essential that MORP preserve them into perpetuity. As heritage fruits continue to gain the interest of gardeners, farmers, orchardists, horticulturalists, consumers, cider makers, and other fruit enthusiasts through MORP's program work and national trends, old Colorado apples have an urgent and rare chance to be to be renowned again. This great diversity disappeared not because these varieties did not grow well here, but rather because many simply were not the shiny red apples representing the standard of the day.
Over the past year, MORP has made great strides to raise the capital needed to purchase historic orchard property - a place to grow and conserve Colorado's unique apple diversity into the future while acquiring juicing infrastructure to grow our region's orchard culture and economy. Now that our goal is within reach, we need your help to turn all the apples red on the fundraising tree. Thank you, your donation saves lost apples.
Help us reach our capital campaign goal!
Phase I, Purchase of Orchard Property: MORP has identified an historically significant orchard property that will allow it to expand the impact of its program areas by acquiring a location to provide harvest and juicing infrastructure and service crew housing to achieve its vision of southwestern Colorado being renowned for an orchard culture and economy based on the legendary quality and diversity of Montezuma Valley Fruits.
In addition, on the property, MORP will preserve Colorado's historic apple varieties as a genetic bank / conservation orchard of national importance. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, it will implement best practices in irrigation efficiency and house an educational center to demonstrate the value of the orchard culture and water conservation to the region.
Phase II: Once MORP secures orchard property, it will build harvest and juicing infrastructure and acquire mobile juicing equipment to turn the region's abundant apple crop (50,000 bushel potential), that now mostly goes to waste, into a value-added product to benefit the people of Colorado. In the end, every gulp of apple juice and cider made as a result of this project will directly support the mission of restoring historic, heritage orchards in our state.