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‘Nobody could eat that many apples’: Thieves steal tree’s worth of apples in Palmer

One of the last apples left on a tree that was stolen from at the Matanuska Experiment Farm.
One of the last apples left on a tree that was stolen from at the Matanuska Experiment Farm.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 8:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A rotten crime at the Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer has left researchers, gardeners and the nearby community with a sour taste in their mouth. Nearly all of the apples off of the tree between one of the cottages and Georgeson Drive have been stolen. The only ones left are out of reach, way at the top.

Apples Stolen from the Apple Tree at the Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center We have a lovely apple tree...

Posted by Matanuska Experiment Farm & Extension Center on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

In their social media post Tuesday, the farm staff points out that this could have easily been a very unsafe decision on the thieves’ part. Director Jodie Anderson said that there is often research going on with the plants at the farm. The stolen apples could have not been safe for consumption, but fortunately for the culprits, the apples on the tree stolen from are eaten every year by the staff and community.

“We don’t have any research happening on any fruits at this time on the facility," Anderson said, "and we’re also savvy enough to know that we wouldn’t put something in public consumption area that would be this open that would be harmful to anyone.”

The farm also states in their post that they suspect the thieves are a family with many children. Anderson mentioned that the farm lets anyone take some apples, as long as they ask permission, don’t climb on the branches to get them and that “they leave some for everyone else.”

One of those people who did ask for permission but now can’t get any apples is Gene Aafedt. He’s lived down the road from the farm for 20 years, and he said the tree was there long before he was.

The plastic bag in his hand would remain empty Wednesday morning. Seemingly confused, he circled the tree a couple of times before somebody told him what happened. Then he was a little disappointed.

He said ate some apples off the tree just a couple days before he came out when they were gone.

“I mean there were a lot of them. There were thousands,” he said. “I mean nobody could eat that many apples. I don’t know. Now they’re gone.”

Aafedt said he likes those apples because he knows where they grew and they taste good. Overall, he said he just hopes the thieves get some good use out of them.

“If they got eaten by a family or something then I think that’s really good,” he said, “but if somebody grabbed these apples then wasted half of them, then that’s not good.”

Anderson said the farm didn’t call the police. The most damage was done from somebody not understanding the sharing atmosphere the farm tries to emphasize.

“It really hurt our feelings, I guess, more than anything else,” she said. "We really strive to support anyone who asks us if they’re interested in getting some apples. We’re happy to share as long as you ask.”

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