An apple a day...

PUBLISHED: 19:26 04 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

Hitchin Pippins

Hitchin Pippins

Apple Day is officially October 21 but throughout the month apples and orchards are celebrated as part of a countrywide event. Claire Pitcher talks to David Curry of The Hertfordshire Orchard Initiative about why the humble apple is so important

Where to celebrate

Chorleywood Community Orchard Apple Day

Taste unusual heritage apples, make freshly pressed juice in the traditional apple press, and play apple-themed games. Bring along your apples for identification by the resident expert.

When: October 1, 11am-3pm.

Where: Chorleywood House Estate, WD3 5SL.

Contact: 01923 282937

About the orchard: Chorleywood Community Orchard was launched in 2008 as an exciting new community project. In February 2009, volunteers planted the first 24 apple trees in the Chorleywood House Estate. The orchard will eventually be home to over 120 fruit trees, a mix of apples, plums and cherries, all carefully chosen either because they are old Hertfordshire varieties or are known to thrive locally.

Highfield Park Apple Day

Explore the orchards and take part in the many family events.

When: October 2, 2pm-4pm.

Where: Highfield Park, St Albans AL4 0RA.
Contact: 01727 847242

About the orchards: Created in 1996 following the closure and redevelopment of Cell Barnes and Hill End Mental Heath Hospitals the orchards are in the hospitals extensive grounds, which now form Highfield Park.

Each year as many apples as possible are picked from the two orchards: Hixberry Lane and Cell Barnes, which are then juiced at Shenley Park.You can buy the apple juice on Apple Day or from Charters Health Club and the Trust office for 2.50 per bottle.

Tewin Orchard Apple Day

Take part in a guided walk of the orchard and have your apple varieties identified.

When: October 8, 11am-1pm

Where: 1 Upper Green, Tewin, Welwyn AL6 0LX.

This Wildlife Trust reserve is a 79 year old English fruit orchard standing in about 10 acres of fields and woodland. The planting of Hertfordshire varieties of fruit has long been a policy at Tewin and the Hitchin Pippin has been propagated here from the last known named tree which was over 100 years old.

Codicote Community Orchard Apple Day

Apple Day has been celebrated here since 2004.. Enjoy apple picking and juicing, with juice sold on the day and later at the village shop.

When: October 8, 11am-4pm.

Where: Codicote Community Orchard, Bury Lane.

Contact: Mike Creasey or the parish clerk on 01438 821770

About the orchard: Started in 1996, the trees at Codicote are mostly half-standards with some standards and some dwarf trees. Apples, pears, cherries plums, gages, walnuts and cobnuts have been planted, many of local varieties including the Hitchin Pippin.

Jeacocks Orchard Apple Day

This is one of a series of events as part of Tring's own Apple Fayre during October.

When: October 9, 10am-4pm.

Where: Jeacocks Orchard, Dunsley Bungalow, Cow Lane, Tring.

Contact: Martin Hicks at
About the orchard: Dunsley Bungalow is a modest house on a two-acre plot of land that was offered to a Mr Jeacock in 1920 as part of the Homes Fit for Heroes programme.

Owner Martin Hicks picks a ton of apples each year, including Annie Elizabeth and Warners King, which are all pressed into sharp, strong-smelling apple juices.

Rivers Nursery Site & Orchard Group Apple Day

When: October 15, 1pm-4pm.

Where: The Leventhorpe School, Sawbridgeworth.

Contact: 0788 7763258

About the orchard: Rivers Nursery Orchard is named after Thomas Rivers, born at Sawbridgeworth in 1798. He was responsible for the introduction of 31 peach and 16 nectarine varieties, over 20 plum varieties, six pears and various apricots, cherries, raspberries and strawberries. He remains famous for his plums today.

Shenley Park Orchard Apple Day

The flagship Apple Day event in Herts. Entry costs 2 for adults and is free for children.

When: October 16, noon-5pm.

Contact: Glynn Dredge

About the orchard: Shenley Park decided to start producing their own apple juice back in 2006, when they made 3,000 bottles of juice. Production has grown as well as the apples since then and can now be bought in their Orchard Tea Room.

This Apple Day, visitors can sample and buy lots of different varieties of apple, take part in cookery, art and photo competitions and participate in juicing demonstrations. There will also be crafts and food stalls all apple themed!

St Peters Church Apple Day

When: October 8, noon-4pm.

Where: St Peters Street, St Albans AL1 3HG.

Contact: 01727 855485.

Hitchin Apple Day

Including Tewin Orchard Wildlife Trust table and help with apple identification.

When: October 22, 10am-2pm.

Where: Market Square.

Contact: Triangle Community Garden, 01462 621585.

THERE arent many fruits that we choose to celebrate during the year, but this month people in towns, villages and orchards throughout the country will be apple bobbing, pressing and picking to commemorate this Great British fruit.

And celebrate it we should because, according to the Hertfordshire Orchard Initiatives (HOI) steering group chairman David Curry, the countrys orchards are under threat.

Over the last 50 years or so we have lost around two thirds of our old orchards as their economic value has declined and land has become more profitable in other ways, from agricultural intensification to housing development, David explains.

This situation is mirrored in Hertfordshire, where orchards were once a common feature of our countryside and urban areas. When these orchards disappear we lose not only the old fruit varieties and cultivars but also wildlife habitats, landscapes, horticultural skills, cultural and spiritual associations which orchards provide. Nature is the poorer and so are we, he continues.

Hertfordshire has a strong connection to the apple in all its varieties. Just 100 ago the county had more than 200 types of fruit growing in a single orchard and each village would enjoy their own unique variety of pears, plums and cherries as well as apples. These were particularly suited to local soils and climate, their names often revealing local associations, such as the Bushey Grove, Hitchin Pippin and Hormead Pearmain.

The HOI is doing a fantastic job in raising awareness of the importance of the countys orchards and how we can help to protect them, and what better way than to coordinate the Apple Day events across Hertfordshire? So take your pick go along and smell, taste, buy and celebrate all things apple!

How it all began

Apple Day was started by national organisation Common Ground on October 21, 1990 when they took over the Piazza at Covent Garden to highlight the importance of the apple to the UKs landscape, culture and wildlife.

Stallholders with a variety of connections with the apple were chosen from across the country: organic growers; beekeepers; the WI, with jellies, pies and chutneys; cider makers, juice makers; nurserymen were on hand to offer advice, as well as tree and apple doctors and identifiers, who worked non-stop all day.

Common Ground wanted to create a festival to show people the heritage of our fruit; their intention being to give people reasons to value and conserve them. They aimed to prevent further extinction of varieties and loss of traditional orchards.

Shenley Park hosted one of the 50 events held the following year, 1991. Its now a nationwide annual event that links the fruit we eat with the people who grow it.

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