11 October 2011

More Apple Day

It's eleven years since we held our first Apple Day event.

It was a modest affair in the local college with a handful of volunteers baking apple-y treats and selling unusual varieties. Over the years we added games, competitions, a stall where you could identify varieties, cider tasting, pruning demonstrations and finally when we began selling trees we moved out of the college and onto Bowling Community Orchard. Last year we served food to over 1,000 visitors in our field kitchen.
The field kitchen before the rush

So, what's it all about? Well, the official line is that Apple Day celebrates the diversity of English apples and the pub quiz facts are shocking - over 6,000 named varieties are known to have been grown in the past. Go on - have a go - cox, russet, granny smith er, er... At Apple Day you can taste the different varieties, both raw and cooked, and we label the dishes with the type of apple used - not so much Apple and Ginger Cake as Lord Lambourne and Ginger.
Identifying apples

What I like about it though is the coming together. I like meeting my mates to drink cider and talk about menus, I like cooking with other people and serving alongside them on the day. I like getting to the orchard at 7.30am and finding everyone already hard at it - the stalls, the competitions, the kids games all being set up, the apple press being installed and the cooks getting their priorities right - proper coffee for all the volunteers. No-one has to worry about anyone else - you do your bit and you know they'll do theirs.

By 11am the public start to arrive - in their hundreds. It's a family event and I sometimes wonder if it hasn't taken the place of the traditional harvest festival. A celebration of the food we love to grow and cook and eat - together.

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