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CASWELL COUNTY, N.C. — What started as a way to preserve the apple trees his great-grandfather planted has grown into a niche business for David Vernon and his family.

Vernon is the owner of Century Farm Orchards in Caswell County.

The farm does raise and sell apples but specializes in operating as an heirloom apple tree nursery.

“We have about 500 different varieties of apple trees. I would say over 450 of them are heirloom, that is, date before 1900 and most of them are Southern varieties,” Vernon said.

A large percentage of Vernon’s client-base is interested in planting apple trees in their backyard.

Vernon values the importance of making sure each tree is prepared with thoughtfulness and expertise.

“When we send you a tree, it’s going to be the variety that it’s stated to be. I grafted it or my father grafted it. I dug it or he dug it,” Vernon said.

Vernon says a big reason the apple tree farm has developed as a niche business is because of the requests it receives from across the country to plant period trees.

These are trees that may be connected to a historical figure or era history.

“You just can’t call up a large company and find that,” Vernon said.

Outside of the farm, Vernon teaches AP physics and AP chemistry at Western Alamance High School.

Century Farm Orchards holds open houses during the first three Saturdays in November.