Dave Hale offers me an apple section as soon as I show up as his market stall. “This is the Pink Pearl, a very tart variety, very good for cooking!” Crunch! The Pink Pearl is indeed a pink-fleshed apple with a golden exterior. The tartness makes my mind flutter with inspirations for apple pies and salads. Dave Hale is a 5th generation apple farmer. His great-great-grandfather – William Ross, originally from Scotland – bought their land in Sebastapol in 1883. Dave grew up on the land, and in 1978 took over from his uncles. At the moment, they are working 40 acres, but he has gone up to 90 acres. “My job is to feed people, and that is what I do! Nice thing about markets, and the reason why I like to come here, rather than send an employee is the direct relationship between producer and consumer. If I send an employee, I can’t have the dialogue that you and I are having.” Dave attends an English woman who arrives with her two young daughters. She tells Dave how much she misses English apples, and he helps her select a few English varietals that might just cure her homesickness. During the apple season (August through Thanksgiving), his trees yield up to 30 different varieties of apples. He shows me the list: Akane, Arkansas Black, Baldwin, Belle de Boscop, Bellflower, Black Jonathan, Black Twig, Braeburn, Cameo, Early Jonathan, Fiji, Gala, Hoover, Jonagold, King of Tompkins, Liberty, Macoun, Mitso, Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Pink Pearl, Pippin, R.I. Greening, Ramey York, Romes, Sierra Beauty, Spitzenberg, Std. Jonathan, Wagner, Winesap, Winter Banana, Winter Permain, etc. What goodness and abundance! I can only identify about five. I ask which is his oldest apple. “I recently found the planting records in the attic in the house! The Balwin, Spitzenberg, and Wagner apples date back to the 1940’s, but the history of some of these apples dates back more than 100 years.” Dave also carries plums and pears and other fruits. He invites you to Hale’s Apple Farm for pumpkin picking season in the Fall.
by Adriana Camarena