The orchardist rescuing fruit trees in New Mexico

Once-diverse apple varieties are declining. Gordon Tooley wants to save them before they are gone.

  • Gordon Tooley digs out and prepares a tree for sale at Tooley’s Trees, a regenerative tree farm in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • Gordon Tooley, Charlotte Moore and Rebekah Vineyard discuss the day’s work plan at Tooley’s Trees, a regenerative tree farm in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • Tooley heads into the field to hand dig a tree for sale at Tooley’s Trees, a regenerative orchard in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • Gordon Tooley at work in his orchard in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • Gordon Tooley holds a freshly grafted apple tree at Tooley’s Trees in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • One of the many apple varieties that are grown at Tooley’s Trees in an effort to preserve heirloom varieties.

  • Cherries await picking at Tooley’s Trees in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • Gordon, Charlotte and Rebeka pit cherries for drying.

  • Tooley cuts open a red-fleshed apple. These apples become “beet-red” when fully ripe and were traditionally used to color sauces. “Every single apple has its own unique characteristics of the arrangement and the coloration — dots, warts, ribs, bumps, flat, squat. These are all the fingerprint in identifying a variety,” Tooley said

  • Gordon Tooley is reflected in a poster of apples as he reads a book about heirloom apples in his living room. He has been studying and working for decades to preserve heirloom fruit varieties on his regenerative orchard in Truchas, New Mexico.

  • The sun sets on Gordon Tooley’s orchard in Trucas, New Mexico.