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Apple fair celebrates past and present

Each year, people gather in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, to celebrate one of the things that made the area famous: the Gravenstein apple.



Each year, more than 10,000 people gather in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, to celebrate one of the things that made the area famous: the Gravenstein apple.

In the late 1800s, Sebastopol had so many orchards of this savory fruit that it was known as the Gravenstein apple capital of the world. As the local harvest grew, so did a town, complete with schools, hotels and even an opera house.

Today, the Gravenstein and Sebastopol are still linked. You'll find a Gravenstein School, the Gravenstein Highway and, of course, the annual Gravenstein Fair that began 35 years ago.

Despite all of the civic pride, Gravenstein acreage has dropped by more than 90 percent since World War II. A global glut of apples, a growing amount of urban development and a switch to vineyards have led to the decline.

The Kozlowski family is among those determined to ensure the Gravenstein will always have a place in Sebastopol.

"Not on my watch will they go out, no sir," said farmer Perry Kozlowski. "It will be over my dead body that my Gravenstein trees will go out. If you can look through my orchard, you'll see Gravenstein trees that I just planted this year. I won't get any fruit off of them for five years, so you see I'm still investing in Gravensteins for the future."

The Kozlowskis have farmed in the area for more than 75 years, and they have made ends meet through diversity, exceptional quality and customer service.

They not only grow produce, they make and market an entire line of specialty and natural food products that are available in stores nationwide.

When you visit Kozlowski Farms headquarters off of Highway 116 in nearby Forestville, you will likely meet many generations of the family, including the matriarch, Carmen Kozlowski.

"The best part about it is that I have family around me all of the time," she said. "Not too many people are that lucky!"

For more information, visit www.kozlowskifarms.com or www.farmtrails.org.


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