City Academy’s Apple Day starts English apple growing resergence

Children and community volunteers to learn horticulture

THE first tree in an apple orchard intended to spark a renaissance of apple cultivation in Hackney was planted in the gardens of a Hackney school.

A sapling descent from the rare Flower of Kent tree which Isaac Newton reportedly sat under when he discovered gravity was the star attraction at The City Academy’s Apple Day on Saturday (November 20).

Teachers at the school plan to plant and cultivate five apple varieties once popularly grown in and around Hackney but which are now dying out in England - Bramley, Charles Ross, Sturmer Pippin, Pearl and Discovery.

Once grown the trees will provide fruit for the school kitchens in Homerton Row, Homerton.

Around 100 people came along, trying apple bobbing, peeling, pressing and tasting – both raw apples and cooked goodies such as apple crumble – and 20 people signed up to volunteer for the project.

Head of Humanities Mathilde Favier said children had researched the history of apple growing in the area: “Over 2,000 varieties of apple used to be grown in England but in the supermarket you find mostly varieties that come from abroad. We want to preserve these varieties so they don’t die out.

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“It was a really good turnout and it was great to have a very broad representation of community members. We want to make children aware of thinking about local food sourcing particularly with the problems of climate change. Why buy apples from the other side of the world when you can grow them here?”

The orchard project as a whole involves various disciplines, from history to horticulture and pupils and community volunteers will learn how to graft, plant, water, prune and harvest the crop.

Miss Favier added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to realise how powerful they can be and how many things they can do themselves rather than relying on supermarkets.”

To help with the orchard, call the school on 020 8525 5440.