A Biblical Fruit Orchard in Georgia?

I covered lots of ground when I used to work for the Augusta Chronicle circulation department, collecting, soliciting, delivering papers, and handling customer complaints. I often saw wildlife while driving during the wee hours of the morning, and I came across interesting plants people grew in their yards. I was surprised to find a fruiting pomegranate tree on 1 occasion. I now know pomegranate trees can grow locally, but I didn’t think of planting them in my yard until my wife’s friend brought some over from her brother’s fruit orchard. This inspired me to plant pomegranates from seeds. Online sources claim the seeds germinate easily and produce good quality fruit in just 3 years. So far, the seeds haven’t germinated, but I am considering planting an orchard consisting of all the fruits mentioned in the bible. I think it would be an interesting showcase. The bible mentions at least 230 species of plants, including 9 kinds of fruits and nuts.

The bible mentions pomegranate 23 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the Koran. Pomegranates have been cultivated for 5000 years, and Spanish settlers brought them to southeastern North America about 500 years ago, and they are still found in people’s yards. I am aware of 1 experimental pomegranate orchard near Alma, Georgia. George Wade, the farmer who maintains this orchard, says he removes and replaces trees that don’t produce at least 50 pounds of pomegranates. Pomegranates are hardy and can survive temperatures as low as 12 degrees F. A bigger problem is the summer humidity that causes blemishes. The fruit is still good to eat, but farmers can’t sell blemished fruit at the market.

My proposed biblical fruit orchard is halfway begun because I have been growing grapes and figs for decades. Grapes are mentioned 72 times in the Old Testament, 6 times in the New Testament, and 12 times in the Koran–more than any other fruit. Grapes have been cultivated for thousands of years and are native to North America.

Figs are mentioned 37 times in the Old Testament, 13 times in the New Testament, and once in the Koran. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together when they discovered their nakedness. Figs are 1 of the oldest cultivated plants, and there is archaeological evidence of figs in a human household, dating to 11,400 years BP (during the late Pleistocene).

Olives are the 2nd most common fruit mentioned in the bible. They are mentioned 49 times in the Old Testament, 12 times in the New Testament, and 6 times in the Koran. Olives are grown, albeit on a small scale, in Georgia. Blueberry farms are abundant in Georgia, and the surplus fruit depresses prices. Blueberry farmers are switching to olives because the same machinery can be used to harvest both. Olives can survive temperatures as low as 17 degrees F. It has been many years since it has gotten that cold at my house. Olives have also been cultivated for thousands of years. Remarkably, people learned to make the toxic fruit edible by soaking the olives in salt water and fermenting them.

I already grow the most common fruit mentioned in the bible–grapes. My grape vines are over 30 years old.
I also already grow figs, but I am having trouble getting a productive bush re-established.
This is an experimental pomegranate orchard near Alma, Georgia. Photo from youtube,
This is an olive orchard in Glennville, Georgia just west of Savannah. Virgin olive oil processed in Georgia costs $35 for 500 ml.

Dates are the 3rd most mentioned fruit in the bible. They are mentioned 34 times in the Old Testament, 8 times in the New Testament, and 22 times in the Koran. This is the only biblical fruit I probably won’t have success with. They can’t survive temperatures below 32 degrees F, and they won’t produce fruit in humid climates. However, I may be able to substitute jujubes, also known as Chinese dates or red dates. Jujubes are not true dates. Real dates grow on palm trees in hot dry deserts. Jujubes are large shade trees able to survive in a wide range of climates. Jujubes are possibly referred to in the bible twice. Scholars think the parable of the trees in Judges refers to the jujube, and they think the crown of thorns Jesus was forced to wear was made from jujube branches. Jujubes taste like dried apples.

Almonds are mentioned 10 times in the Old Testament. My late grandparents successfully grew almonds in Winder, Georgia. However, I am sure I would have the same problems with almonds as I do with my peaches. Almonds and peaches are closely related, and I have trouble with plum curculio infestations and fungus rot on my peaches.

Apples may be mentioned 5 times in the Old Testament, but scholars aren’t sure of the Old Hebrew world tuppuah. It may refer to citron instead.


Jannick, Jules

“Fruits of the Bible”

Horticultural Science 42 (7) August 2007

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