Celebrating the British apple

By Catherine Henderson

Acklam Russets, Barack Beauty, Nutmeg Pippin, Knobby Russets … all types of apples celebrated today on World Apple Day.

A visit to your local supermarket today is not likely to  provide an insight into the rich diversity of the 1200 British apple varieties which still exist.  Over 70% of apples eaten in Scotland are now imported from abroad, largely from New Zealand and France.

Children enjoy the results at their local orchard
Children enjoy the harvest

Glasgow based charity “The Commonwealth Orchard” wants to bring apple growing back into Scottish communities.  Director of Commonwealth Orchard, John Hancox says “We’re aiming to bring a fruitful legacy into communities around Scotland.  Planting an orchard in a local community has lots of results – better diets, environmental impact and a collective enterprise which brings the community together.”

Last year with the help of “The Commonwealth Orchard” a new orchard was planted in Dunkeld and the first fruits are being harvested right now.  Hancox says “150 trees were planted and local children were encouraged to plant their own trees. We’re encouraging a strong sense of ownership to the orchard.  From planting last year to scrumping this year, the whole community has bought into the project and results are being seen already.”

With obesity rates in Scotland steadily rising over the last 10 years it’s not surprising that Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing is supporting the work of “The Commonwealth Orchard.  Sturgeon says “It’s a great project which offers a range of community, educational and health benefits for children, families and schools.”