WSU Extension Clark County Heritage and Experimental Orchard
Established in 2005 the WSU Extension Clark County Heritage and Experimental Orchard is located at Heritage Farm and is a repository of heritage trees, experimental stock and native plants from throughout the region. The cuttings for the heritage trees were taken from area pioneer homesteads to preserve the local heirloom varieties and to tell the story of their origin and uses. Most of these were originally brought from across the country and world as the Pacific Northwest was settled. The Heritage cuttings have come from the Guild-Klady Centennial Farm, Goerig Homestead, Buker Homestead, St. Cloud Ranch, Uptmor Place, Sam’s Walker Site, Neima River Homestead, Klickitat Crossing and the Finnish Homestead.
This collection has been grown from seedlings, and/or grafted and planted by WSU Clark County Extension staff Robert Goughnour in collaboration with WSU Clark County Master Gardners. Special thanks is extended to the input and support of Dr. Wee Yee, USDA-ARS.
Open to the public the orchard allows visitors to appreciate the diversity and historical impact these plantings had in the past and today. You may tour the Orchard during our regular business hours after you sign in at the main office, Monday thru Friday. Please do not pick the fruit, move the traps or anything else that may be in the orchard as it is also a research orchard.
Classes of various types are held in the orchard including Master Gardener seminars and Farm to Fork events for local youth. All trees and bushes are clearly marked with their common name, genus, the common uses for the fruit or berry and it’s original location in the area or homestead.
The Heritage Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site was originally a poor farm operated by Clark County from the 1873 thru 1943 and the current building which houses the WSU Clark County Extension was built in 1926 after the previous building burned down in 1923. From 1949 thru 2008 WSU operated the majority of the property as an experimental agricultural station. Today the farm celebrates not only our agricultural heritage, but also supports agricultural research and experimental research.
The Heritage Orchard showcases historical and experimental plantings, the community gardens allow people to grow their own food, large areas are cultivated for donation of food to the Clark County food bank with the WSU Extension office providing support and promoting volunteering to the community.
Heritage & Experimental
The heritage orchard was originally planted in 2004. Cutting were collected from local homesteads in Southwest Washington with the support from USDA-ARS Dr. Wee Yee, Dr. Kurt Schekel – WSU Extension and Mary Ann Gustafson with the Master Gardener Foundation.
Along with the heritage fruit trees, the orchard is planted with flowering ornamentals that fruit, persimmons, plucots, quince, sweet cherries, native service berries, currents, choke cherries, huckleberries and many others. The orchard has been used for apple maggot research and demonstrations since 2008.
The experimental segment of the orchard is multi-faceted includes shrubs, trees, and landscaping that are ornamental but also edible, experimenting with various planting to see what grows well, grafting experimentation and control of various problem pests such as the Apple Maggot. Throughout your tour of the orchard you will find various “traps” that are used to further the understanding and control of these pests.
Cherry Grove Natural Area
Nestled against a riparian are the Cherry grove provides a complete ecosystem. The work on the natural area started in the summer of 2004, the area was overgrown in Himalayan blackberry, non-native holly, Canadian thistle and other assorted non-native plants. Through co-operation with Blair Wolfly, correction crews and volunteers began clearing. With seeds deposited y wildlife four varieties of domestic cherries (Bing, Black Republican, Royal Ann and sour cherries) from the old farm sprang up. Native bitter cherry, Japanese plum, Mirabelle plum and native Mountain Ash all grow in this riparian area making it a perfect place to study the Western Cherry fruit fly and Spotted Wing. Surprisingly the first record of apple maggot in the Northwest was recorded here in 2018. This is significant because of export issues (Wee L. Yee, Robert Goughnour, Jeffery Fedder) Environmental Entomology.
Nestled against a riparian area the Cherry grove provides a complete ecosystem and is a heavily used habitat year round by local wildlife which includes deer, coyotes, raccoons, possum and multiple species of nesting birds. The fruit provides a high quality source of food for all the wildlife and natural cover that allows them to move freely throughout this area. Oregon ash, snowberries, and broad leaf maples start blending in with the east side of the grove. On the west side Korean bush cherries and Nan King bush cherries have been planted as a research plot that is supported by Dr. Wee Yee, USDA-ARS that will turn into a demonstration plot. Staying with the export issue there is a great interest in if the bush cherries will become infested with the cherry fruit flies. Bush cherries are used heavily in Korea, China and Japan. We are hopeful that they will become a niche market fresh fruit for small acreage growers.
Terrace Garden Research Site
The Terrace Garden was originally planted in 2009 as a cooperative project between sustainable farming, WSU Extension and Master Gardeners. Bill Berry of Natural Recovery donated many of the original tees and shrubs. The original idea was that the plot would take care of itself. The plot was abandoned by 2012 whereupon Himalayan blackberry, salmon berry, Canadian thistle and thimble berry overran the plot. Of the original plantings of ocean spray, orange honeysuckle, twin berry, high bush cranberry, salal, black gooseberry and wild rose did not survive into 2014.
In 2013 , Blair Wolfly WSU Extenstion and Robert Goughnour started reclaiming the terrace site for a research and demonstration site. With volunteer help from Master Gardeners, local groups and WSU Extension the terrace is now a valuable resource. The unique planting has become a perfect site to study apple maggot control. Between 2015 and 2018 it has been used to study export issues. Tropical fruit hung in the orchard was exposed to apple maggot in an uncontrolled setting. Also several new organic traps have been tested in the orchard to further help control this pest. (Dr. Wee L. Yee, Robert Goughnour) Florida Entomologist.
In 2018 sixteen eastern variety apple trees were added to the grove by WSU Extension. These include Cortland’s, Red Macintosh, Rome and Empire. The USDA-ARS has asked us to study Western apple maggot attraction to these highly used East coast varieties. Beginning in 2017 all surplus fruit harvest after experiments were completed was donated to the Clark County Food Bank.
Riparian Demonstration Area
The riparian planting was done in 2007 in collaboration between WSU Extension ad Bill Berry of Natural Recovery. The site was chosen close to the Master Gardener green houses and the main building conference rooms to be used as a demonstration site for native plant habitats.
The wild roses and snowberry are also used to study snowberry flies and rose flies which are close relatives to apple maggot and cherry fruit flies. This is important because Snowberry flies were found to be crossing with apple maggot creating a possible new threat to the apple industry (Dr. Wee L. Yee, Robert B. Goughnour) The Canadian Entomoligist.