It Only Takes A Few Pips

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.

Apple bounty

Apple Bounty

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.

Amy hunting for apples

Hunting for the best one!

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.

DSC_0565.jpg

Over 1200 varieties of apple in the UK – let’s go find them!

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.

18 responses to “It Only Takes A Few Pips

  1. It’s nice to hear an update about your rather cool orchard volunteering. I hope you update us with images when the blossoms are on. Our single tree of indeterminate lineage (it seems to be part-cooker and part eater) is always stunning when in blossom but got ravaged by last years high winds. Crossed fingers everyone’s apples escape MAach winds this year. :D

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    • Head gardener advises its unlikely we will see blossoms til next year and even then we will have to pick them all off for the good of the tree. I have already got a “Blossom Fairies” club in mind for the girls’ friends to come and help

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  2. Wonderful project. We have such wonderful apples in Britain but many will be virtually lost (except in botanical collections) unless we celebrate and grow them more ourselves. :-)

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  3. Great blog post Urvashi. I’ve only tried tree planting once before when I used to manage volunteers and it’s hard work! Really worth while and fun too. I’ve always wondered of I could manage to grow a tree from my apple pips. I managed to grow an avocado from the stone and it’s still growing strong although it’s mainly leaves at the moment… I’m going to save my apple pips and give it a go too :)

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  4. The stories around traditional old apple varieties are great aren’t they? I love a plant with a bit of a history! Your orchard project sounds really good – it’s a great way to preserve the old apple varieties, help wildlife and get children interested in growing.

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    • Thanks Sarah. The girls come along and potter around making dens and twig houses for the mice or birds or fairies. I love it. Really never feels like you are so close to London.

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  5. This a great story–an encouraging bit of hope. Ken

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  6. I love old orchards and it’s so brilliant to do our bit in preserving old varieties of fruit trees – sounds as if you’re doing great stuff. I’m full of admiration for Dragon Orchard in Herefordshire too – great example of a community supported agriculture project helping sustain the life of a wonderful old orchard.

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  7. what a lovely idea and a really important issue. I am inspired, though not ready for an allotment just yet, but there is a community orchard near our house. Must investigate!

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  8. I saw a poster for a community orchard in Southmead the other day, I should investigate and see what they get up to. I have one apple tree with three grafts, none of them are heritage fruits but it does mean that we get a variety of apples even in our small garden. What I really want are old English cherry trees…. like those wonderful yellow cherries I had as a child and never see anywhere now… :(

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  9. Pingback: Best of the Foodie Blogs: Ten at Ten (55) | Foodies 100

  10. Such a wonderful story.

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