Van Aken was aware of a special orchard at the NY State Agricultural Experiment Station that grew lots of heirloom, antique, and native varieties of fruit which would otherwise have been lost. Some of these varieties were/are 150 to 200 years old.
Unfortunately the axe was due to drop on the orchard in 2008 but Van Aken came to the rescue. He bought the orchard to preserve the agricultural treasure, and being an artist, his creative instincts went to work on a new and beautiful agricultural wonder – a tree that produces 40 different types of fruit.
Van Aken approached the process of engineering his special tree very logically and methodically.
First he chose the fruits he’d use on his tree from a selection of 150 heirloom trees. (Photo left, bounty from the “Tree of 40 Fruit”) Second, he worked out the blooming and ripening schedule of each fruit so that they complemented the other varieties on the special tree.
Third, Van Aken began the grafting process, attaching grafts from the selected trees onto the new tree’s base.
Five years later, the first “Tree of 40 Fruit” was revealed.
Most of the year the “Tree of 40 Fruit” looks like a regular tree. But in Springtime it bursts into a glorious riot of blossoms in pink, white, red, and purple. Over the forthcoming summer these lovely buds turn into the bounty of summer: plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. What makes this tree extra special is that these fruits are all heirloom and antique varieties being further preserved through this artist’s vision.
Van Aken’s next project is to grow a small orchard full of these lovely trees in a city.
In a quote to Epicurious writer Lauren Salkeld, Van Aken said, “I’ve been told by people that have [a tree] at their home that it provides the perfect amount and perfect variety of fruit. So rather than having one variety that produces more than you know what to do with, it provides good amounts of each of the 40 varieties. Since all of these fruit ripen at different times, from July through October, you also aren’t inundated.”
A lovely concept by a truly ingenious man, a special human who qualifies in CryptoVille’s view, as a special “Human Cryptid.”
If you’d like to see more, check out the video (about 6 minutes long):
What do you think? Would you like one of these trees in your garden?