Apple-Holics Anonymous

Harry Burton
Friday, 29th January 2016

Are you addicted to buying and planting apple trees? Harry Burton and friends have set up 'Apple-holics Anonymous', explaining a list of symptoms and a 12 step program to 'recovery'.

Due to an increasingly serious need, we have decided to create an organization called Apple-holics Anonymous to deal with this addictive epidemic sweeping through the fruit growing networks of the world.

People are helpless to control their desire to plant more apple trees.

Here are the symptoms that are becoming very obvious and very rampant. This will help you to recognize those around you who are afflicted.


1) You have no control over acquisition of fruit trees.

2) You will buy an apple tree, even if you do not have a space to plant it. You know you will find a space somewhere.

3) You spend money you do not have, to purchase a fruit tree.

4) You will spend money that is designated for necessities, such as food, mortgages or utilities, to buy new fruit trees.

5) You will hide apple tree purchases from your partner.

6) You are drawn to a large gathering of fruit tree growers in the spring, especially if there is going to be scionwood available. The magnetic forces of many scionwood varieties, is similar to the attraction of party animals to music.

7) You have an uncontrollable, insatiable urge to acquire more apple varieties.

8) You belong to every apple organization that is possible, such as NAFEX (The North American Fruit Explorers), HOS (Home Orchard Society), SFTS (The Seattle Fruit Tree Society, WCFS (The Western Cascade Fruit Society), CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) and MIDFEX (Midwest Fruit Explorers).

9) If you are planting apple trees, such as those on M111, requiring 16ft spacing, you will shrink that spacing to 13ft in order to fit in more trees.

10) You are never satisfied and are always looking for new apple varieties.

11) You are constantly tuning up your orchard, by removing some varieties, in order to fit in a new one.

12) Your favourite excuse for not suceeding is always, "Oh well. I will get that right next year."

Now I know you all have at least some of those symptoms, therefore I am signing you ALL up to Apple-holics Anonymous, and you must prove that you have NONE of the above symptoms, in order to get out it.

In order to establish a network of helpful strategies for those battling this condition, we have also created the 12 Step Program.

The 12 Step Program for Apple-holics

1) As an Apple-holic, we admit that we are powerless over apple trees and that our orchards have become unmanageable.

2) We admit that Mother Nature is more powerful than us, and that we could restore sanity to our lives if we gave up growing apple trees.

3) We have made a decision to turn over our orchard to the growing methods of Mother Nature and incorporate organic growing methods.

4) We have made a totally honest inventory of our orchard and varieties.

5) We admit to Mother Nature, the exact nature of our addiction.

6) We are entirely ready to have Mother Nature remove all the unhealthy apple trees and substandard vartieties from our orchard.

7) We humbly ask Mother Nature to help us to improve our orchard.

8) We have made a list of all persons harmed by our apple growing addiction.

9) We have tried to make amends to those we have harmed.

10) We continue to make orchard inventories and when we have been wrong about a certain apple variety, we promptly admit it.

11) We seek through meditation and consultation with other growers, strategies to improve our connection with Mother Nature, praying for knowledge and the strength to carry it out.

12) Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these 12 steps, we will try to carry this message to Apple-Holics, so we can all practice these steps forever.

The phenomenal strength of Alcoholics Anonymous, has been in the great number of recovering alcoholics, who because they no longer drink, become an exceptional resource for reaching out and helping any problem drinker. The daily AA meetings then becomes a very dynamic mix of those who no longer drink to act as mentors to those still drinking. The recovered alcoholic can pass along stories of their struggles and then subsequent sobriety and invite the new AA initiates to join in the process. As a result of this incredible network of mentor and drinker, AA has good record of helping those wishing to quit drinking.

One of the biggest flaws with Apple-Holics Anonymous, is that no one has ever quit growing apple trees. We have no mentors. There is however, one cure that is 100% guaranteed, and that is death. No one that has died, continues to plant apple trees. There could also be some unnatural deaths that occur, caused by unhappy spouses, who have had enough of this apple addiction and came up with the perfect solution.

Our Patron Saint, Nick Botner

In March 2015, at the Plant Propagation Sale of the Home Orchard Sociey (, in Canby, Oregon, (near Portland), the first meeting of the Oregon Chapter of Apple-Holics Anonymous was initiated.

It was there, that 89 year old Nick Botner, from Yoncalla, Oregon, just south of Eugene, Oregon, would be unanimously acclaimed the Patron Saint or Poster Child of Apple-Holics Anonymous.


Apple-Holics Anonymous Inaugural Meeting, Portland Chapter

From left to right: Steve Butler of Port Orchard, WA; Nick Botner of Yoncalla, Oregon; Harry Burton of Salt Spring Island, BC; Larry of Lebanon, Oregon and Fred Price-Mills of Canyonville, Oregon.

Supporting Factors

1) Nick grows over 4,000 varieties of apple trees on his 125 acre farm in Yoncalla, Oregon. But in addition he grows 500 pear, 170 plum, 150 cherry, 475 grape cultivars. Did I mention that Nick is 89 years old and has virtually NO help to do this.

2) As an 89 year old, at 2015 Plant Propagation Sale, Nick was revenously collecting scionwood like he was 16 years old.

3) When Nick’s wife went back to Wyoming to visit relatives, Nick moved the fence between his apple orchard and his wife’s animal pastures, about 100 feet into the animal pasture, in order to have more room to plant apple trees. His wife, Carla, subsequently decided she was not going to leave that farm anymore to go to Wyoming.

4) He is a source of inspiration to those younger growers around him.

5) He is always willing to help those same younger growers.

6) He has a widespread network of supporters.

Supporting photos as proof of Nick Botner’s Acclamation.


Nick gathering scionwood at the 2015 scionwood sale. He was like a little kid at Christmas.


Nick’s very creative business card.

The good news.

Nick’s 4,000 apple varieties are being duplicated by Joanie Cooper and Shaun Shepherd at the Temporate Orchard Conservancy in Mollala, Oregon. This very feat gives them automatic membership in Apple-Holics Anonymous. Thanks Joannie and Shaun.

Visit their website:

Further resources

Harry Burton runs Apple Lucious Organic Orchards in Saltspring Island:

To help with the addiction: The Orchard Book by Wade Muggleton

Planting fruit trees - part 1 - which fruit?

Picking apples, choosing varities and pruning with Patrick Whitefield