During the week of September 13th, participants in the National Park Service’s arborist training program, coordinated by Northeast Region’s Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, provided critical maintenance to Morristown NHP’s historic Wick Farm orchard. The orchard contains approximately 125 trees, consisting of twenty different varieties of apple trees. The varieties include historical apple cultivars from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The team members represented parks from five NPS regions. The arborist trainee team conducted pruning and structural stabilization of the trees to maintain the appropriate historic character of each tree’s crown, size and shape. The team also trained new trees that had been planted in 2009 and protected them with fencing to control deer browsing. The advanced pruning techniques of the arborist trainees resulted in improved structure, growth form, health and vigor of all age classes of trees and improved the overall appearance of the orchard. The team also assessed tree conditions to update the orchard monitoring program.
The Wick Farm was the first of three 18th-century farms established in the area that in 1933 became the Jockey Hollow unit of Morristown NHP. In 1779, for the second time during the American Revolution, General Washington chose the Morristown, New Jersey area as the location for the Continental Army’s winter encampment. During the winter of 1779-80, approximately 10,000 soldiers camped on the Wick Farm and the neighboring Kemble and Guerin Farms. An apple orchard was present during the 18th-century encampment near the Wick farmhouse and is still in the same area today.
Over the past 230 years, the Wick Farm Orchard has been continually managed and documented. The orchard site is significant not only as a Revolutionary War encampment, but it also is an important tool in helping interpret historic agricultural trends in our country.