Name:           John Bunker & Cammy Watts

                      Super Chilly Farm

Location:      167 Turner Mill Pond Road

                       Palermo, Maine  04354

Phone:           207-993-2837



Visits:             by appointment

Products & Services:

-well-established farm since 1972

-MOFGA certified

-extensive vegetable gardens

-apples, cherries, pears, plums

-hens and roosters

-large variety of heirloom trees

-”Out on a Limb” Apple CSA - rare apples

-apple tastings, workshops, talks

-”Out on a Limb” online newsletter

-apprentice program

-book - Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History

of the Apples and Orchards of Palermo, Maine


What Makes Super Chilly Farm So Unique?

If you are in search of a farm that’s well off the

beaten track; that’s a home to hundreds of rare apples; that operates off the grid; combines a sense of history and whimsy; encourages the sharing of experience and knowledge; and is totally natural in its design, then Super Chilly Farm is the place.  It is the home of John Bunker and Cammy Watts and it is a farm where an incredible amount of learning and sharing takes place.  Because their time is often limited, visits to Super Chilly Farm take place by appointment only.

John Bunker has been homesteading at Super Chilly Farm since 1972.  There’s an “other worldly” feel after you navigate the lengthy drive and finally reach the farm.  Gardens are scattered throughout the one-hundred acre property. Chickens have the run of the land.  While exploring the farm, a visitor soon realizes that the gardens are quite distinct in the unique ways that they have been designed.  A large selection of companion plants have been included in the gardens.  The Hugelkulture system has been incorporated.  In this system, plants are grown in soil, hay, and compost that is situated above mounds of stumps, roots, rocks, brush, and branches.

Super Chilly Farm is home to over two hundred

varieties of rare and historic apples.  John and Cammy have demonstrated a phenomenal passion for apples. They have operated the “Out on a Limb”  Heritage Apple CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program for rare and unusual apples for the past four years. Participants in the CSA pay a $125 fee beforehand.  They will receive twenty or more varieties of rare apples in five different distributions from the second week of September to the second week in November. For additional information about this innovative CSA, check out:

In many orchards, apple trees are often found in

straight lines where they have been planted at

uniform intervals.  At Super Chilly Farm, apple

trees can be found just about everywhere.  While

there might be a line of closely-planted young

trees in some spots, many of the locations where apple trees pop up come as a complete surprise.  They are often in the midst of a patch of vegetables, herbs, flowers, or ornamental plants.  You might spot a few near one of the rustic outbuildings that are located on the farm or next to one of the many homemade compost piles.  John and Cammy began a one acre orchard with forty apple trees down the road from their farm this past year. 

A mature apple tree at Super Chilly Farm often contains a large number of different varieties of apples.  Scions (twigs that contained buds) have been grafted by John on to the root trees over the past thirty years ago.  Some of the grafted trees are host to over a dozen varieties of apples. Tags identifying the varieties can be seen hanging from various parts of the tree.

A visit to Super Chilly Farm is an adventure.

You may be walking through a field of trees,

when all of a sudden you come upon a primitive sauna that is set among the woods.  As you continue to meander, a handmade rustic wooden bridge appears and leads you to another “almost

magical” area to explore.  If you continue along your way, you will eventually come upon a large grape arbor sheltering a long table.  The table appears to just be awaiting a large group of guests for a feast of vegetables or fruits from the gardens.  There are buildings with solar collectors, stashes of firewood and weathered lumber and storage sheds. 

John and Cammy’s former solar home has a rain collection barrel and hoses mounted on the roof.  Two apprentices and their children have been residing there before they move to their own farm down the road. There is a creatively designed post adjacent to their house composed of four birdhouses facing four directions that looks like a rustic weathervane.

An artistic appreciation for the beauty that is found in nature underlies everything at Super Chilly Farm.  The knobs to open doors and the hooks to hang towels or other items are crafted from the beautiful limbs and branches of trees.  There are whimsical signs and creative archways and many rustic touches that illustrate a close connection with the land. The front door of John and Cammy’s new home, with John’s carving of an apple tree, is a magnificent work in progress.

And then there’s the infamous Boot Hall of Fame!  It is a collection of shoes and boots donated by many of the individuals over the years who have helped in the gardens and around the farm.  Super Chilly Farm has been the welcoming home to many apprentices over the years.  John Bunker has lovingly created the sign that announces the boot and shoe collection with the words, “The Boot Hall of Fame - And I died in my boots like a pioneer with the whole wide sky above me.”

John and Cammy  have developed a unique bond with their natural surroundings in Palermo.  They are homesteaders who have managed to successfully live off and with their land.  They grow much of their food that they store in their root cellar. They are even growing grains for their chickens.  They have planted perennials and herbs that provide medicinal and edible uses.

The new home that John and Cammy designed and built is off the grid. They are environmentalists. They have opted not to spray their fruit trees or gardens. They stay focused on developments in organic gardening.  John serves on the Board of MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association).   He was instrumental in the founding of the Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA’s headquarters in Unity. In 1984, he began the FEDCO Trees division.  The goal of this member and employee-owned cooperative is to be a source of hardy and healthy trees for cold climates.  To learn more about this cooperative, check out:

In 2007, John Bunker published Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo Maine, 1804-2004.  This 190-page book, that chronicles two hundred years of apple farming in Palermo, was well received. It is filled with John’s wonderful illustrations, interesting anecdotes, maps, information about the uses of apples, and the history of several different varieties.  The book is currently in its third printing. 

In pomological circles, John is considered the

“Apple Guru.” He conducts apple pie tasting contests and various apple events, leads talks, and travels extensively looking for rare apples. He is a wealth of knowledge and is more than willing to volunteer his time identifying apples. While some people refer to him as the “Apple Whisperer,” Unique Maine Farms views him as a “Pied Piper” figure in the world of apples.  If you saw him at the Common Ground Fair in the FEDCO booth, he was always surrounded by a group of people trying to acquire information and have certain apples identified.

During the anticipated time that Unique Maine Farms had planned to interview John at the Common Ground Fair this past Sept. 22, a reporter from the New York Times was already asking him questions and another reporter was there taking notes, as well.  A veritable press conference in Unity was taking place at the FEDCO booth in Unity all because of John Bunker! Rather than repeat here all that was learned during that interview, you can check out what John shared about global warming, various apple varieties and their uses, etc. on his Out on a Limb website since the New York Times’ interview from that day is posted there!

John and Cammy’s knowledge of apples and gardening and their willingness to share their expertise with others is one of the most admirable aspects of their farm.  On the day Unique Maine Farms had the pleasure of visiting their farm there were people who had traveled from Rhode Island and Portland and several apprentices were busy at work. A great deal was also learned when Unique Maine Farms had the privilege of listening to John speak on heirloom apples at the Open Farm Day at Pettengill Farm in Freeport this past October.

At both the Common Ground Fair and Pettengill Farm, John distributed very helpful handouts on companion plantings, and instructions on renovating old trees and on the differences between a grafted and a seedling apple tree.  He made sure to share some of his “Wanted” posters that depict some of the rare apples that he hopes to find. Copies of the FEDCO Trees catalogue were also given out.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to view one of these catalogues, they are a one-of-a-kind delight. Filled with the creative drawings and musings of John and beautiful images from old-time garden books, recipes, short anecdotes, and gardening tips, etc. one can easily spend hours enjoying them.

John has demonstrated a great respect for all

the apple growers from long ago.  His Not Far From the Tree book is a beautiful testament to the history of apples in the Palermo area over the past 200 years.  John generously donates a portion of the sale of each of his books to the Palermo Historical Society.  It is available on Amazon.

Information about his book can be found on his


Hats off to John Bunker and Cammy Watts for

the generous sharing of all your knowledge, your experiences and your recipes. Your commitment to the environment; your pursuit of a self-sufficient and caring lifestyle; and your concern for the preservation of so many varieties of heirloom apples are greatly appreciated.

There is an old Irish proverb - “The tree remains, but not so the hand that put it.”  John and Cammy’s commitment to preserve the heirloom apples for future generations ties in well with the idea of this proverb.  The attention and efforts that they both direct to what was grown many years ago has great worth.  Their persistence and dedication to preserve the apples of years’ past is a beautiful way of giving meaning to those who took the time and made the effort to plant the original apple trees. A special thanks goes out to John and Cammy.

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