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New U of I Sandpoint Center to Present Regional Heritage Orchard Conference May 31

May 21, 2019

SANDPOINT, Idaho — May 20, 2019 — The Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center at the University of Idaho will expand its mission to provide public education Friday, May 31, when it hosts the Heritage Orchard Conference for researchers, heritage apple explorers, fruit growers and others.

U of I acquired the 48-acre center near Sandpoint in 2018 through a donation from Dennis Pence and his family. The center’s main focus is an organic orchard that produces apples, cherries, plums, raspberries and other fruits.

The conference will feature David Benscoter of Spokane, Washington. He is widely known for his Lost Apple Project, which finds and identifies apple varieties that survive in early settlers’ orchards.

University of Wyoming and Montana State University researchers engaged in similar efforts to identify and restore their place in modern orchards will also present during the daylong conference.

U of I Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center Manager Kyle Nagy said the event focusing on heritage orchards began with a call from Benscoter shortly after the university’s acquisition of the center.

“We talked about the growing interest in heritage fruit varieties, and similar interests among researchers in Montana and Wyoming,” Nagy said. “We hope that this conference presented by the University of Idaho will become the first in a series.”

Wyoming researcher Steve Miller will talk about his efforts to identify and save his state’s 100-year-old apple varieties during the conference.

Montana State researchers Katrina Mendrey, Rachel Leisso and Zach Miller will review similar efforts there. Mendrey will also lead a discussion of future goals and collaborations to link regional heritage orchard programs.

Other presenters include Casimir Holeski and Sadie Barrett. Both, like Benscoter, have worked to find, identify and preserve heritage fruit varieties. A full conference schedule is available at the event website.

Conference registration costs $40 with dormitory-style lodging available at the center for $10 per night Thursday and Friday, May 30-31. Registration and more information is available at

Media Contact

Bill Loftus
Science Writer

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