It’s strangely gratifying that The Old Farmer’s Almanac is still in print—that out there somewhere, away from the tech craze and the desk jobs, a seasoned farmer continues to consult his trusty guide from 1792. With An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering more of the same.
The department’s collection of pomological watercolors, intended to aid accurate identification and examination of fruit varietals for the nation’s growers, was started when the blueberry had not yet been domesticated, and completed before photography was widely available. The result is a 7,497-strong painting series by 21 artists that documents the transformation of American pomology while also hearkening back to a simpler time. For anyone feeling inspired, the book is publishing in time for peach-and-berry season. Look forward to grapes and figs later in the summer. —Julia Vitale