Remembering Dick Randall
Even in an area as small as New England, word sometimes travels slowly. So it was that I only learned recently of the death of Dick Randall of Randall Orchards, a third-generation farm in Standish, Maine, last summer.
Dick was a loyal, full-paying member of the New England Apple Association from the time a retail membership was established in the early 2000s. I did not meet him for the first time until 2011, though, while researching my book, America’s Apple. He was cordial, candid, and generous with his time that day, even while he was recovering from a serious accident. Despite his ailments, he maintained a wry sense of humor.
I returned to the orchard a couple of times since then to take photographs, and to visit with Dick. The last time was just a couple of weeks ago in late July, when I learned of Dick’s death from his son, Robert, who has taken over management of the orchard with his wife, Julia. Dick’s health never fully returned after the accident, Robert says, and he ultimately died of lung disease at age 75.
The airstrip Dick and his family maintained for years will eventually be converted to orchard, Robert says, and Dick’s airplanes have been sold. Robert is honoring his father’s memory in other ways, such as rehabilitating an old building that once housed a sawmill for making apple boxes. The building will become the orchard’s new salesroom by September.
He will be missed, but his legacy lives on at the orchard where he was raised, and which he managed for more than 30 years.
Here is what I wrote about Dick Randall in America’s Apple:
“Randall, like many small orchard owners, has had a second career to supplement his apple income, flying small planes for 45 years as an aerial advertiser. He owns a great collection of restored antique tractors and airplanes in a huge hangar abutting a narrow grass landing strip, with apple trees on the other side.
“On one wall of the hangar is a twisted fuselage from a small plane that Randall, now 72, crashed in February 2010. The accident left him with a broken rib, punctured lung, crushed vertebrae, and concussion. ‘The rest of it is a mess,’ he said wryly from where he greeted us, fully clothed but reclining on a bed in the living room of his 1776 farmhouse. He later rose and escorted us around the hangar with the aid of a cane.
“Randall says he fully expects to fly again, but he then tells us matter-of-factly of a tragedy greater than his recent accident, one that for most people would qualify as a reason never to fly, much less choose it for a hobby or career. In 1958, then 18-year-old Dick Randall and Rufus watched from the doorway as Dick’s twin brother Bob and his older brother John, 24, crashed their small airplane in the midst of a turn over the orchard, just after taking off from the grassy strip. Both were killed. Why, then, did Dick Randall choose to fly? ‘I wanted to discover what they did wrong,’ he shrugs, referring to his brothers. He did to his satisfaction (it had to do with the way they took the turn), and then just kept on flying.”
Lyman Orchards turns 275!
The Lyman family of Lyman Orchards officially celebrated its 275th anniversary June 14 with a day of special events and activities. Started by John and Hope Lyman on 37 acres in 1741, the Lyman family today manages more than 1,100 acres in Middlefield, Connecticut, including more than 100 acres of apples, berries, and vegetables, a retail store, and three golf courses.
The orchards are now managed by Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ciskowski, Executive Vice President John Lyman III, and other members of the family’s eighth and ninth generations, with a tenth not far behind. It is the 12th oldest family owned business in America.
Speakers at the June 14 event included Connecticut State Historian Dr. Walter Woodward, Peter Hill, chief executive officer of Billy Casper Golf, and Michael Rozyne, chief executive officer of Red Tomato.
2017 apple calendar available in September
The 2017 New England Apple wall calendar will be distributed to members of New England Apple Association and made available to consumers in September.
The calendar features photography of New England orchards by Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell, plus photographs and descriptions of a different apple variety each month. The calendar includes contact information for member orchards in each of the New England states.
Individual calendars can be purchased for $12.95, which includes shipping, using either PayPal or a check made out to New England Apple Association, PO Box 41, Hatfield, MA 01038.
New England Apple Day August 31 officially launches the season
The New England Apple Association has a number of promotions and special events lined up for fall, including New England Apple Day, the official kick-off of the fresh harvest by the state departments of agriculture, Wednesday, August 31. New England Apple Day traditionally falls on the Wednesday before Labor Day Weekend, the start of the season for varieties like McIntosh and Cortland.
Here are some of the other events where New England Apple Association will feature the fall crop:
Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Farm Fresh Fest
499 Mountain Rd.
The Association will have a booth with early season apples.
Friday, September 16, through Sunday, October 2
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”)
Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, Massachusetts
In this, the centennial year of New England’s largest fair, New England Apple Association will once again sell varieties of fresh apples, apple pies, crisp, cider, and cider donuts for 17 days from its booth in the Massachusetts Building.
Saturday, October 15
10 a.m. to 12 noon
Great New England Apple Pie Contest
Wachusett Mountain Applefest
499 Mountain Rd.
Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will once again serve as judges in the Great New England Apple Pie Contest, now in its seventh year.
Tuesday, October 18
Ramapogue Historical Society
West Springfield Public Library Community Room
200 Park St., West Springfield, Massachusetts
Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell, author of America’s Apple, Apples of New England, and the weblog newenglandorchards.org, will speak about the history of apples as well as the current crop, and bring samples of a number of varieties for tasting.
Tuesday, November 1
Attleboro Garden Club
Florence Sweet Clubhouse
44 Peck Street, Attleboro, Massachusetts
Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will speak, and bring a variety of apples for tasting.
Feeding the pollinators
New England’s apple growers depend on honeybees and other pollinators to fertilize the crop during the critical two-week bloom period in early May. Without them, there would be no apples.
But the Italian honeybees, wild bees, wasps, and butterflies need to collect nectar throughout the summer to survive. At orchards like Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine, wildflowers like Queen Anne’s Lace are allowed to mingle with the apple trees to provide a rich source of food for the pollinators.
Ellen McAdam’s penchant for flowers attracts bees in a lush garden between her house and a block of trees at McDougal Orchards in Springvale, Maine.
A long, wide swath of lilac-colored bee balm studded with coneflower and a few stray goldenrod are a popular feeding spot for pollinators at Butternut Farm in Farmington, New Hampshire, in mid-orchard.
Making the website work for you
Members of the Association are encouraged to update their listing on New England Apple Association website, newenglandapples.org, by August 10.
Visitors to the site are directed to your listing by first clicking “Orchard Finder” on the home page. People can then search by zip code or Google Map or access detailed orchard listings by state. Everyone will know what your orchard has planned for the 2016 season if you add special events and update your list of apple varieties and other products.
Visitors to the website can search for orchards by the apple varieties they grow by clicking the “Apple Finder” image on the home page. It takes them to a list with photographs of more than 200 apples. By clicking on any photo, people can read about the variety’s flavor, texture, ripening time, distinguishing features, best uses, and history.
Each variety page includes a link to a list of New England orchards that grow it, with contact information. If your orchard’s varieties are not listed on the website, they will fail to appear in those searches.
Members can update their listings by typing in their password on the Members link in the upper right corner of the home page. For people unfamiliar with the system or needing assistance, or to add an orchard listing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 203-439-7006.