The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is a network of individuals throughout the United States and Canada devoted to the discovery, cultivation, and appreciation of superior varieties of fruits and nuts. Founded in 1967 by a small group of pomological hobbyists, NAFEX has grown to an organization of more than 3,300 members, and is chartered as a nonprofic corporation in Illinois. Although the ranks of membership include professional pomologists, nurserymen, and commercial orchardists, NAFEX members are all amateurs in the truest sense of the word - they are motivated by their LOVE of fine fruit.
NAFEX members work together to help each other by sharing ideas, information, experiences, and propagating materiel. A quarterly journal, Pomona, is assembled largely from articles submitted by the membership. A diverse assortment of interests and approaches are represented. While many members are involved in collecting and growing well-known fruit like apples and pears, others are specialists in so-called minor fruit such as mayhaws, kiwis, persimmons, and pawpaws. A number of members are primarily variety collectors, and some experiment to breed new cultivars. Others labor to produce good fruit crops under marginal conditions. Different, often contradictory, methods of horticulture are also advocated; organic practitioners share a forum with growers applying chemical management systems.
The term fruit explorers many seem a bit dramatic to the uninitiated. Yet, it accurately depicts the panorama of countless men and women throughout the ages who have contributed to the progressive expansion of the frontiers of fruit culture. ... Our existent fruit varieties have come down to us largely as the result of observant discovery and diligent preservation.
In more recent times, fruit exploring has taken on a new dimension as pomologists undertake to develop improved varieties through deliberate, controlled crosses. The resulting offspring are then evaluated to identify the most desirable type worthy of introduction. Today the modern fruit explorer may be involved in any of these activities:
1. Finding, identifying and preserving superior germplasm from the past.
2. Extending the geographic and climatic limits of various fruit types.
3. Breeding, testing, and selecting new cultivars and rootstocks on the basis of superior quality, adaptability, and/or disease resistance.
(the above taken from The Handbook For Fruit Explorers, 1986 )
Also included in membership is an extremely well provisioned lending library with several hundred items.
Membership is $8 for one year or $15 for two years. For more information write to:
NAFEX, Jill Vorbeck, Rt. 1 Box 94, Chapin, IL. 62628