Foraged Fruit Project

The Questions: Why are people foraging for apples today? How are they doing it? And what kinds of fruit are they finding? Could that fruit be useful – not just for the cider it produces today – but for the future of orchards in years to come? Our transdisciplinary project combines oral history and ethnographic research methods with horticultural and agricultural research in plant science. We want to understand both the social and cultural motivations behind foraging practice, as well as learn more about the fruit itself, its qualities, its parentage, and the resilience of the trees it comes from.

The Researchers: The Foraged Fruit Project is a research collaboration between Dr. Gregory Peck of Cornell University Dr. Maria Kennedy of Rutgers University to investigate the practice and produce of foraging apples in New York State’s cider industry.

The research project is based at Cornell University and is funded by a grant from the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement, and partners with the New York Cider Association.

The Research Process: Throughout the project, we will be seeking to interview people who are engaged in foraging apples. Based on interviews, we will request fruit and leaf samples from a select number of people to assess fruit quality and genetics. Anyone may fill out our query form linked here: Foraging Practices Survey Link

The Science: Juice analyses will include extraction efficiency, as well as the concentration of soluble solids, reducing sugars (fructose, sucrose, and glucose), sorbitol, ammonia, primary amino nitrogen, titratable acidity, total polyphenols, and polyphenol composition. Genetic fingerprinting of cider apple trees will be conducted using leaf samples submitted the Washington State University Tree Fruit Genotyping Laboratory. Phenotypic and genotypic data will be uploaded to the Peck Lab’s CiderBase, a database that currently included 375 different types of apples.

CONTACT: If you would like to contact us about the project, please email us at:

Maria Kennedy: maria.kennedy@rutgers.edu ~ Contact Maria for questions about setting up an interview or queries about the general purpose and impact of the project

Gregory Peck: gmp32@cornell.edu ~ Contact Greg for questions about the horticultural and agricultural science aspects of the project.


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