Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Apple Day 2010

Crouch End's second annual Apple Day on 16 October 2010 attracted over 400 people.  They came to drink apple juice, fresh from the press, and to taste over a dozen different varieties of English apples and pears.  Children were encouraged to press their own juice, take part in the Longest Peel Competition and make vegetable monsters, which could later be turned into nutritious soup. 

Other attractions included a cookery demonstration by the sustainable caterer, Sarah Moore.  Her first demonstration used green tomatoes from the Hornsey Vale Kitchen Garden, a vegetable garden grown entirely in recycled car tyres.  Her second was a delicious recipe, made from quince from Blackmoor Farm, who also provided the tasting apples, and fifty examples of older varieties.

John Selborne, the owner of the estate, provided the highlight of the event.  His talk on the origins of the apple showed how all the apples we eat today come from just one species of wild apple in the Tien Shan Mountains in Kazakhstan.  Previously it was thought that modern apples were the result of hybridising between different wild apple species, but recent research has discovered that  our domestic apples such as Golden Delicious are indistinguishable from the wild apple, Malus sieversii.  The wild apple is polymorphous, which means it can adapt easily to circumstances, a very useful trait, since the mountain terrain is unstable and the climate can be  harsh.  A good example of this resilience is the sweet, red apple, which emerged because bears like eating that kind of fruit and their digestive systems provide a fine fertiliser...

In this Year of Biodiversity, John Selborne made an important point about protecting the millions of trees that form these ancient apple woods.   Cutting down the trees to fuel factories and developing land for crops all threaten this rich resource.  John Selborne emphasised the point:  ‘If you are looking for a breeding programme, where we can exploit the diversity of the apple, we must above all protect these original apple woods.’

The overwhelming turnout and enthusiastic response to the talk are indications of Crouch End’s residents’ appetite for food, that is diverse, distinctive and above all things, local.

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