Holyrood’s Apple Day has been a calendar highlight for four years now, and the event this week was no different. I was delighted to be asked to co-sponsor the event, and there was excellent attendance of school children, MSPs, and apple growing community groups and businesses.
You could smell the fruit as soon as you entered the room. I counted at least 50 varieties of Scottish apples displayed in baskets, but I was told this represented only a fraction of what grows across Scotland. One of the oldest apples, first grown in the 1890s, is the James Grieve apple, of which I have a tree growing in my garden today.
The event was organised by John Hancox, Director of Fruitful Scotland. He estimated Fruitful Scotland had planted 500 school and nursery orchards so far. The organisation is now working together with Education Scotland to expand Apple Day to more and more schools. Marking the beginning of the harvest, the day is dedicated to promoting locally sourced produce, healthy eating and respecting the environment. As a former Eco-Schools co-ordinator I feel very positive about teaching these lessons to school pupils through looking after their own school orchard.
It was also very interesting to hear from Coffee Conscience, a socially and environmentally responsible company delivering Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate. Coffee Conscience supports the planting of community orchards from its coffee sales, and this year generously donated further sponsorship to these projects. This year they enabled the planting of 1650 trees – almost an orchard a week.
Fruitful Scotland and Coffee Conscience are looking for more projects that need guidance or support. In a few weeks I will visit Overton Farm for the Clyde Valley fruit day, and will be sure to promote this idea then. If your community has a piece of unused land, visit the website here for more information.