Processing pawpaws: Looking forward and looking back
I first learned about pawpaws from Chuck Marsh. He was an enthusiastic advocate of new and under-appreciated fruit. When I became a partner in the nursery in 2010 we gathered and planted selected pawpaw varieties everywhere—his yard, at the nursery, and in Geoffrey’s and my orchard. When his first pawpaw tree started blooming, Chuck gathered flowering stems from other trees in the village and brought them to pollinate the flowers in his tree. He was a proud papa when his trees bore fruit that fall!
For the nursery, we gather seeds from superior genetics to grow into plants for our customers. One of our favorite pawpaw sources is Wynn Dinnsen’s Pittsboro farm. During a recent plant delivery, I bought 10 pounds of pawpaws from Wynn. The pulp will go into a variety of baked goods and ice cream. And the seeds will grow into pawpaw trees for our nursery customers.
Losing Chuck so suddenly has been a big shock, and I appreciate all the support our crew and I have received through this transition. We were 50-50 partners in the nursery and had each willed our half to the other, to give the nursery its best chance of continuing without one of us.
In addition to producing thousands of useful plants each year, the nursery provides much-needed jobs in the ecovillage—and will continue on. We have a great crew and plenty of plants for the fall and spring. And with these seeds, we will have pawpaw trees for years to come.