In business from 1990 until the 2010s, Jim's Apples - our family's apple orchard - once had more than 400 trees, consisting of more than 70 different varieties of apples. These are not the bland apples you may find in your local supermarket, but instead include many heirloom varieties, including Wolf River, Pippin, Arkansas Black, and others.
In October 2008, we were featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine.
"By the bushel, by the peck, by the bag, or by the apple -- good eating no matter how you cut it."
That was our motto.
The orchard began quite by chance. James (Jim) Tomlinson's interest in recreating some of his grandfather's orchard, and his attendance at a grafting class conducted by Harold Jerrell, Lee County Extension Agent, began the enterprise.
Mr. Tomlinson had grafted to some existing apple trees on the farm. He and his brother-in-law, Larry Hobbs, decided to attend a grafting class offered by the Extension Service in 1988. Each intended to graft only 10 trees, but there was extra root stock available at the class, and they purchased and grafted it. Mr. Tomlinson set the grafted trees in a space he had cleared for tobacco plants and had excellent results. 56 of the 59 trees begun that year lived, with several quickly growing to more than 6 feet with root spans in excess of 4 feet. With this type of success, it was too tempting to see what else could be accomplished.
Those first year's trees make up the first three rows of the orchard planted in an old hog lot, prompting the suggestion that the orchard should be called "The Hog Lot Orchard." Mr. Tomlinson grafted additional trees in succeeding years, supplementing the orchard with a few purchased trees, until the orchard approached 500 trees. He also developed a spray program that not only worked with the new trees but revived several old trees on the farm.
In memory of Jim Tomlinson, 1929-2007