(Featured image from www.treeof40fruit.com)
Artist Sam Van Aken has found a way to metaphorically kill multiple birds with one stone.
A sculptor and associate professor in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, Sam grew up on a farm in Reading, Pa. that had a peach orchard beside the house. Growing up, he learnt the grafting technique – in the agricultural sense. Grafting and budding are methods of asexual plant propagation that join plant parts so they will grow as one plant. The 39-year-old originally planned to create full orchards to grafted trees but his limited funding didn’t allow him to do so.
However, he chanced upon an idea when he was playing with some plastic fruit in his studio 5 or 6 years ago. He called this idea, which later turned into a full fledged project, “Tree of 40 Fruit“. Sam began by grafting 40 different stone fruit branches onto a single tree, turning it into a hybridised fruit tree. He also said that he tried to include local fruits (US) on each of his trees as well as varieties that aren’t commercially available.
It led him to creating a tree that will slowly begin blooming at the beginning of spring and continue through the season as different varieties hit their marks. By summer, those will all bear fruits, including different types of cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots.
They don’t look anywhere near as close as Sam’s rendering imagines them to be just yet because they’re still young and small. But they certainly are beginning to display what makes them so unique!
The trees are currently spread across US, with the majority of them around New York and New England. According to Epicurious, there are 16 of them so far, located in museums, community centres, and some private collections. Sam Van Kane’s goal is to make 25 40-fruit trees and he’s also planning to create a 100-fruit tree, a project he estimates will take about 20 years.
Strange finding but a breakthrough all the same. Sam Van Aken, you’re a game changer! We certainly don’t mind taking lots of selfies with the “Tree of 40 Fruit” or you know, just pictures of the tree alone would be fine by us.