I was reading the story of the Bramley Apple this week. Who knew that a little girl’s apple pips would result in such an infamous apple? That tree, planted in 1809, is still there and still producing fruit which I find heart-warming and reassuring.
A 60% decline in traditional orchards
Sadly this isn’t the case for many fruit trees as the the number of orchards has declined by 60% since 1950. The two key reasons were to make way for urban development and pressure on small scale orchard owners from commercial growers. I’m all for business growth and development of communities but there is a part of me that wants to cherish the days of old lest we forget how to even plant a seed.
There is a simple and strange satisfaction that arises from putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow. The trees I have been planting over the last few months at the Forty Hall Farm Community Orchard in Enfield, where I volunteer, have been grown according to traditional methods and bought using our fundraising pot to be planted and nurtured in a traditional way. No bulldozers. No pesticides. Just hard work, patience and an ethos for doing the ‘old’ thing.
Multiple payback from a few pips
We have some years to go before our little trees start to bear any fruit. I wonder how long little Mary Ann Brailsford had to wait for her first Bramley? I wonder if she was out with her binoculars like my little Amy in search of the best and most juicy.
I can’t wait for the blossoms and fruit to come and I take comfort in the fact that our efforts and waiting are creating little habitats for species of wildlife that might otherwise be forgotten. We have over a hundred trees of different varieties including an Enfield Apple sourced from The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale.
It only took a few pips to create the infamous Bramley. It only takes a few pips to keep a tradition alive for another 100 years. Go on. Give it a go.