This year our London Office got involved in celebrating Apple Day, an annual countrywide celebration of the variety and distinctiveness of local produce and to also raise awareness of traditional orchards and their value to wildlife.
Varietal Apple Tasting
The Ecology Consultancy office began their Apple Day celebrations with an apple tasting. Over 10 different varieties of apple were provided by staff from their own gardens and allotments or purchased locally at Borough Market.
The Apples supplied by staff came from Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and included Bramley cooking apples and Jonagolds. The Apples from Borough Market were grown in Kent at Chegworth Valley Farm and included modern varieties such as Crimson Crisp and Gala as well as Ashmead’s Kernel, which is one of the oldest varieties in the UK, dating back to around 1700. The different apples were sampled and compared. The Ecology Consultancy provided information cards which included a brief history of the variety and tasting notes. Crimson Crisp and Cox’s apples were firm office favourites, both of which were described as mildly acidic and crisp apples.
About Apple Day
Apple Day was launched in 1990 by Common Ground with a single event in Covent Garden, and since then has grown each year with more and more celebrations taking place. In 2016 hundreds of Apple Day celebrations took place all across the country, organised by villages, parishes, restaurants, employers, schools and community services. Apple Day usually falls on the 21st October however celebrations also take place throughout the month.
Traditionally Apple Day is an opportunity to try and buy some of the many varieties of apple grown in the UK, however it is also celebrated with baked local goods and other produce. It is an opportunity to learn more about local produce and the traceability of food as well as raising awareness of traditional orchards and their contribution to local wildlife and biodiversity and local culture.
Traditional Orchards and Biodiversity
Added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan in 2007, traditional orchards have been recognised as vital refuges for wildlife, as well as significant to the local character of our landscapes. They often contain a mosaic of habitats, including scrub, hedgerows and grasslands, as well as fruit trees of varying ages and an abundance of dead and decaying wood, all of which can support a wide range of plants and animals.
Orchard provide a feast for mammals, bats and birds during the autumn in preparation for the cold months ahead. Fungi are frequently found on the orchard floor or on tree trunks and mistletoe, is often found on apple trees – spread by mistle thrushes and other birds that feast on its berries.
Typical orchard wildlife can include hedgehog, badger, bats, dormouse, numerous birds including robin, fieldfare, mistle thrush and bullfinch as well as a range of invertebrates from the noble chafer beetle living in deadwood, to bees and butterflies feeding on the blossom and in turn helping to pollinate the fruit.
So by retaining and protecting old traditional orchards we are not only preserving a pool of genetic variety, but also providing foraging and habitat for a wide range of protected species.
The apple you eat is the landscape you create.