Wild Apples by Jonathan Gerken

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In college, I first read Henry David Thoreau’s essay Wild Apples in a book of his collected works and it resonated with me. The essay illustrated his enjoyment of wild New England apples, as well as his sadness at their disappearance, as they were being replaced by farmed apples. This is the same process I am seeing with apples today. Heirloom varieties are becoming harder to find, even at farmers’ markets, and grocery stores have narrowed their selection to just a handful. My first book, Apples I Have Eaten, was a collection of photographs of rare apples, but I wanted to place them in a greater context, to show not just their beauty, but their importance. I chose Thoreau’s essay because his sentiments are just as relevant today as they were 150 years ago. We have already lost many of the wild apples that Thoreau memorializes. Who knows what varieties we may lose in the next 150 years if we do not make a conscious effort to keep them alive: growing, buying, eating, sharing. I hope I can play a small part in this.

Artist Bio

Jonathan Gerken is a letterpress printer and book designer who has been working at Peter Koch Printers in Berkeley, California since 2004. There he designs, prints, and binds books that come through the shop, manages smaller projects, and wrangles the computers. On top of this, he assists with the CODEX Foundation, helping to produce publications and run the biennial book fair. In his spare time, he works on his own projects. He received his BA in Book Arts from the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and his MA in Visual Studies - focusing on the history & future of the book - from UC Berkeley.