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Farmer Talks Apples at Ossining Community Markets

OSSINING, N.Y. – For apple farmer Chip Kent, there are hard apples and soft apples, sweet apples and tart apples, apples with appealing names, apples that are disease-resistant and apples that are too hard to grow to ever become widely sold.

"We have 70 varieties of apples, which is a little bit over the top," Kent said on Wednesday night during a presentation and apple tasting event at the Community Markets' Ossining headquarters.

Community Markets is a non-profit organization that is in charge of 19 local farmers markets, including the Ossining outdoor market and the indoor Briarcliff market that is held during winter months. Leaders of the organization recently decided to start hosting educational events and kicked off the "Meet the Farmer" series with Kent's presentation.

Kent's family has been farming apples for seven generations along the banks of the Hudson River in Milton, N.Y. Kent's ancestors came to the area in the late 1700s as ship builders. They built ships to transport fruit to New York City, and eventually established the 100-acre Locust Grove Fruit Farm.

When asked what his favorite type of apple is, Kent said "I love them all but I really like the golden delicious."

Certain apples such as Gold Rush, Liberty and Pristine are disease-resistant, Kent noted, and the Empire apple is very popular in supermarkets because it is one of the easiest apples to grow. Honey Crisp apples, on the other hand, are "the biggest pain, they're worse than my kids," Kent said.

Kent said farmers would not make a profit on apples that are hard to grow because they are prone to disease, rot or other ailments.

"A lot of the older varieties were popular because they would last," Kent said. "The heirloom varieties weren't good to grow anymore."

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