Monday, 21 October 2013

Happy Apple Day!

Today, 21st October is Apple Day.

Apple Day was launched in 1990 by Common Ground. The aspiration was to create a calendar custom, an autumn holiday. From the start, Apple Day was intended to be both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape, ecology and culture too. It has also played a part in raising awareness in the provenance and traceability of food.

Here's some information about the very first Apple Day taken from the Common Ground Website

"The first Apple Day celebrations, in the old Apple Market in London’s Covent Garden, brought fruit to the market after 16 years’ absence. Forty stalls were taken. Fruit growers and nurseries producing and selling a wide variety of apples and trees rubbed shoulders with juice-and cider-makers, as well as writers and illustrators with their apple books.
Representatives of the WI came laden with chutneys, jellies and pies. Mallorees School from North London demonstrated its orchard classroom, while the Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust explained how it manages its orchard for wildlife. Marks & Spencer helped to start a trend by offering tastings of some of the 12 ‘old varieties’ they had on sale that autumn. Organic growers were cheek by jowl with beekeepers, amidst demonstrations of traditional and modern juice presses, a calvados still and a cider bar run by the Campaign for Real Ale. Experts such as Joan Morgan identified apples and offered advice, while apple jugglers and magicians entertained the thousands of visitors – far more than we had expected – who came on the day.
For two weeks before Apple Day, in a marquee on the Piazza, Common Ground exhibited the photographs of West Country Orchards we had commissioned from James Ravilious alongside a display of more than 100 different apple varieties. People were amazed at the diversity of shapes, sizes and colours. We also offered lunchtime tastings of some of the varieties on show, and many people bemoaned the lack of such choice on supermarket shelves.
We will never know just how many people came to that first celebration – it was certainly thousands and even now we meet people who effuse about it as a memorable event. Many wanted it to be repeated, but our intention was to spread the idea far and wide, encouraging people to celebrate Apple Day for themselves in their own city, village, parish, allotment or garden orchard.
And so the tradition of Apple Day began. Over the next few years, the number of events being organised around the country grew from more than 60 in 1991 to 300 by 1997 and over 600 in 1999, some attracting thousands of people. Apple Day has played a part in raising awareness not only of the importance of orchards to our landscape and culture, but also in the provenance and traceability of food. It has been one impetus behind the developing network of farmers’ markets and is helping people everywhere to discover they are not alone in valuing the links between food and the land, between natural resource use and the impact we have on nature."

Image via  Common Ground

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Dragonflies in the Orchard

The sun came out late this afternoon, it was surprisingly warm for so late in October. Along with the sun came the dragonflies, it was nice to take a few moments to watch their aerial display. Despite having spent a wonderful afternoon at the now sadly defunct National Dragonfly Museum at Ashton Mill in Oundle some years ago I don't know enough about these beautiful insects to name them. Not sure if this is a Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isosceles).

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Apple Picking Then and Now

In years gone by pickers would pick straight into these bushel boxes, the ones that are now extremely popular for storage, display etc. Each box would take 40lbs of apples and the pickers moved them by hand. Hard work indeed.

These days apples are picked into these large bins which are moved around by tractor. Maybe not quite as back breaking as having to lug a wooden box with 40lbs of apples in it but they do take 36 apple picking basket loads to fill each one so it's still very hard work.