The Apple Man of Pittsboro NC

Pittsboro, NC – It’s always great to read about Pittsboro’s unique people in the national media. On Wednesday, The New York Times featured an in-depth story about Creighton Lee Calhoun Jr., an apple farmer in Pittsboro.

The Amazing Mr. Calhoun

Mr. Calhoun, now 82 years young, is no ordinary apple farmer. He’s a retired Army lieutenant colonel and an expert on heirloom apples.

Old Southern Apples” is Mr. Calhoun’s encyclopedic book covering 1800 varieties of apples.

His orchard contains about 300 trees.

Sharing the Love

Mr. Calhoun, who goes by Lee, has shared his collection of old-time apple trees with younger farmers in the area. He grows forgotten varieties including Early Strawberry (makes good apple sauce), Arkansas Black, Red Twig and Carter’s Blue. Another type, the Cullasaga, was grown by the Cherokee people of North Carolina.

Grown Your Own

Lee Calhoun grows most varieties by grafting. That is, he takes a twig from the old tree and grows it on the trunk of something else.

Nowadays, Calhoun mostly grafts to dwarf tree stock, keeping the apple trees at a manageable height. He’s a careful pruner and uses wires to shape the trees for optimum production.

If you’d like to know more about growing heirloom apples, The Times lists an upcoming workshop in our area:

NORTH CAROLINA There will be a grafting workshop April 2 at Horne Creek Farm, in Pinnacle. Information: (336) 325-2298 or

More About Pittsboro’s Apple Man

It’s great to hear about interesting local people. The New York Times article is interesting, well-written and stacks up as good journalism in my book. Read it for yourself:

The New York Times
March 2, 2011
In The Garden
He Keeps Ancient Apples Fresh and Crisp

5 replies
  1. mike shepherd
    mike shepherd says:

    hey Lee,

    I was at your book signing last year and I enjoyed it! i make hard cider and needed a bushel or two of a diferent veriety. Do you sell your apples or do you have leftovers???

  2. Erin Bush
    Erin Bush says:

    I own a small sustainable farm near Montgomery, AL,and want to establish Carter’s Blue in the orchard. Am having difficulty finding a source for that variety. Do you know where I can buy them?

    Your background is amazing.

    With thanks,

    Erin Bush

  3. Tom Riley, Riley Family Farm
    Tom Riley, Riley Family Farm says:

    I need assistance, I have a moderate apple farm. I need assistance in obtaining cider apples. I traveled to northern France and visited numerious cider farms and calvidose distillerys. I need high acid and bittersweet type apples. Thank you for your assistance. Tom Riley

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