Our book this month is At the Edge of the Orchard, by Tracy Chevalier. One of the main characters in the book is John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed. Growing up, I was familiar with this historical personage only because of the song we used to sing:
Oh the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me
The Things I need
The sun and the rain and the appleseed
Oh, the Lord is good to me!
Johnny Appleseed was a real person, who lived from 1774 to 1845. He spent most of his adult live establishing apple nurseries, which he would visit and tend to every one or two years. He went barefoot, was vegetarian, and attempted never to hurt an animal. He was opposed to grafting, a process which allows new apple varieties to be created. Most of the apple trees he planted grew “spitters,” that is, apples used for making cider. His orchards were laid low not by flood or drought or pests, but by Prohibition.
Want to learn more about this peculiar and influential American figure? Try “7 Facts on Johnny Appleseed” on biography.com or “9 Facts That Tell the True Story of Johnny Appleseed” on mentalfloss.com. For a less accurate take on the story, here’s the first part of Disney’s version, complete with the song and friendly chirping birds.