Maine heritage apple varieties are laid out for tasting at the Blaine House as part of a ceremony in 2019. Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

AUGUSTA — John Bunker approached Gov. Janet Mill’s administration in 2019 and offered to create an orchard at the Blaine House full of Maine heritage apples. He suggested planting 16 varieties of apple trees, one to represent each of Maine’s 16 counties.

“The idea is to connect all of Maine and everyone in Maine through apples,” he said.

The project was approved. So far, half of the 16 apple trees have been planted. 

“(Apples speak) to the most important things in life that everyone shares,” he said. “Those are things like the importance of our history, the importance of home and food and agriculture. The importance of learning from the elders and passing along to the youngsters. These are things that just transcend race and politics and religion. Those are the things that are really important.” 

While there is no set timeline for the project, Bunker notes that it may be completed in two years. 

He hopes that the heritage orchard can be a symbol of unity for the people of Maine. 

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