Apple Day at The City Academy in Homerton

by Jamie on November 21, 2010

Yesterday morning I attended a lovely event at the City Academy in Homerton, Hackney at the invitation of Lewis from Fruit-Full Schools, a fantastic project which is planting new community orchards in fifty schools around the country:

Fruit-full Schools allows us, the new generation, to take positive action towards the creation of a sustainable future, where we can pick fresh fruit from just round the corner instead of it being flown from the other side of the world. We’ll be doing our bit to increase biodiversity by planting trees and attracting wildlife, so not only will our schools become more productive, they will become more beautiful and inspiring places to learn and grow.

With the support of a national network of Fruit-full School coordinators, we’ll be exploring ways to ensure that our orchards are valued and well used by teachers, pupils and our local communities. It won’t just be the technicalities of grafting we’ll be learning about … we’ll be finding out about our rich fruit culture, history and traditions and reviving the colourful (and sometimes a little crazy!) customs that surround our orchards.

Yesterday there were lots of apple activities including apple bobbing, peeling competitions and juicing going on and lots of enthusiasm from the kids. The main event was the planting of a sapling grown from the apple tree, a Flower of Kent, that reputedly led Isaac Newton to discover gravity. What better way to inspire kids about the wonders of both locally grown fruit and science?

The new orchard will be planted soon and I’ve added it to the map in anticipation.  They’re on the look out for local volunteers to care for the orchard. There’ll be free training happening in March and I’ll post more information when I get it. If you’re interested in getting involved, drop me a note and I’ll put you in contact with Lewis.

Varieties of fruit found in Hackney

by Cath on October 17, 2010

Thanks to Jim Arbury from the RHS who was with us on Saturday, we’ve been able to identify what varieties of apple and pear we’ve harvested in Hackney.

My personal favourite, this apple came from a private garden on Dynevor road. It’s a cooking apple which still tastes delicious raw, although I may have over indulged yesterday! This apple is called a Howgate Wonder and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest apple.

Jim believed this to be a cooking apple which originated in Scotland, called Stirling Castle. The apple is very sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste from the skin and came from the corner of Palatine and Wordsworth road. As these were very ripe and soft when we picked them we found they worked very well as juice.

A sweet, crisp apple which we scrumped from branches overhanging Lordship road of a tree in an empty property. This was a real hit in the flapjacks as well as delicious raw. Jim wasn’t completely sure which variety the apple was but he suspected it was Merton Worcestor, a variety which originated in South London at the beginning of the 20th Century.

This pear, known as the Vicar of Winkfield, is an old cooking pear which originated in France where it is known as ‘le curé’. We harvested this pear from a large tree in a private garden on Allerton road.

Growing Communities Apple Day

by Cath on October 16, 2010

Hackney Harvest had a hugely successful and enjoyable time showcasing the project at the Growing Communities apple day today.

We gave out lots of apple tasters as well as super-ethical, vegan, sugar-free flapjacks made with apples from Lordship road (I should point out, they were also super tasty).

We were lucky enough to be joined by Jim Arbury from the Royal Horticultural Society who is an expert in identifying fruit and was able to establish what varieties our Hackney apples and pears were.

Jim wins the prize for best fact of the day, informing us that it’s currently believed that apples originated in Kazakhstan. From there they spread throughout Europe and were popular with the Romans, who helped their migration. The first recorded instance of apples in the UK is in Edward 1st’s court record in 1200.

Our map of fruit trees was also on display and a number of trees were added to it by people we spoke to.

The project seemed to capture the imagination of many and we look forward to involving more people next year whether it be pitching in as harvesting volunteers or as fruit tree owners.

We had a fantastic day and really enjoyed meeting and speaking to lots of Hackney residents. Big thanks are due to Kerry from Growing Communities, Jim from the RHS, Carina from the London Orchard Project, Lisa from Happy Kitchen (responsible for our wonderful flapjacks) and all the Hackney Harvest organisers and volunteers.

Last weekend’s harvest was a huge success! We ended up getting nearly 80kg of apples and pears for us and about the same for the climbers from the Castle Climbing Centre.

The apples we harvested were very tasty indeed and they were put to good use at the Green Sundays 10/10/10 event at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. It was a gloriously sunny autumn day, there was a great turn out, we made delicious apple flapjacks at Happy Kitchen in London Fields and juiced the rest using the London Orchard Project’s press.

It was a great weekend and many thanks to Ida and the climbers, Lisa at Happy Kitchen and Jessie and the Green Sundays crew for making it a memorable one!

Tonight we grabbed a further 35kg of cooking apples in Stoke Newington (thanks Helen!) and I have a variation of this plum and apple chutney bubbling away on the stove at the moment.

This Saturday we’re going to be going to the Apple Day at Stoke Newington Farmers Market and hope to see you there for lots of apple related fun and games.

Harvesting this Saturday – The Big One!

by Jamie on October 5, 2010

This Saturday we’re looking to harvest as much as possible for the upcoming festivities this Sunday (the Global Day of Doing in Dalston) and next Saturday (the Apple Day at Stoke Newington Farmers Market).

Also this Sunday morning we will be joining Lisa from Happy Kitchen in London Fields for a cooking workshop using some of the fruit that we’ve harvested. Lisa specialises in cooking without the use of sugar so if you’re interested in finding out how to do this, come along. We’ll be meeting at 11 at The Bakery, Arch 402, Mentmore Terrace in London Fields.

We’ve identified some good looking trees in public spaces and have got in contact with local residents who have trees in their gardens and can’t reach those last bits of fruit. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more under our belt by Saturday.

We’re very happy to say that a bunch of climbers from the Castle Climbing Centre are coming to lend a hand for those more inaccessible spots that the pickers and a step ladder just can’t reach.

As ever we’ll be meeting at the Jolly Butchers at midday. If you have a bike it would be a good idea to bring it along but not to worry if you don’t as there’ll be people on foot.

A busy weekend ahead!