Bussey is producing an encyclopedia of some 16,000 apple varieties.
He hasn't tasted them all, but he is one of those folks like John Bunker and Lee Calhoun who rescues old obscure varieties by driving around and knocking on doors and asking questions.
Bussey relates how he ID'd one antique variety:
We found a tree not actually very far from where I work, a huge thing, and the amazing thing on it that made it so easy: It still had a metal tag with the name....
Over 100 years old, and it still had the tag, half-embedded in the trunk, but you could see the tag, and knew it had writing on it. We carefully removed the tag from the trunk, and it was clear as a bell: pencil-written on metal, and it lasted all this time.
Roach's interview includes some wonderful and strange images of heritage apples.
They certainly lifted my spirits on this overcast day of this weary winter.
Bussey also curates a 1200-variety heirloom orchard for the nonprofit Seed Savers Exchange. (Here of course the medium is not seeds but budwood.)
About those 16,000 apples: At an apple a day that would take nearly 44 years to taste them all.
But many are lost; Bussey's catalog relies on historical information.