ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 29, 2007) - September marks the beginning of National Apple Months and the birthday of one of the nation's greatest promoters of apples, Johnny Appleseed. The Maryland Department of Agriculture along with the state's apple growers invite residents to celebrate by visiting local orchards and buying locally-grown apples. Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, the commemoration was expanded in 1996 to a three-month apple promotion from September through November. Apples are the feature of the Maryland's Best agricultural branding program this fall.
"Not only are apples a tasty treat, but they're also very nutritious and grown right here in Maryland," said Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson. "When you buy local products, you're supporting your neighbors and helping to keep Maryland green. Buying locally-grown food is good for you, and good for Maryland."
The health benefits of apples and apple products were first recorded as early as medieval times, giving rise to the old English saying "Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed makes the doctor beg his bread" and its modern day variation, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." More recently, the healthy attributes of apples have received considerable attention as numerous studies have linked apple nutrients to lower blood cholesterol, and reduced risk of stroke, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and asthma.
Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced the apple to large parts of the United States. Born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, his dream was to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. He traveled about the new territories of his time, leasing land and developing nurseries of apple trees.
To celebrate Johnny Appleseed's 233rd birthday weekend, Maryland farm families invite residents to visit one of the many apple orchards around the state on September 29 and 30, 2007. Orchard visitors can taste the very best in fresh local apples and enjoy a variety of special weekend activities including hayrides, petting zoos, corn mazes, and more.
When you can't get to an orchard, look for fresh Maryland apples in many local grocery stores and restaurants. According to the Maryland Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state's apple production in 2006 totaled 34 million pounds with a value of $6.8 million dollars. Almost every county in Maryland has at least one active commercial orchard. Visit www.marylandsbest.net to find a location near you.
For more information, about the apple promotion, locating participating orchards, and fun apple facts log onto www.marylandsbest.net. For details about the promotion, contact Kate Mason, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 410-841-5779 or email@example.com