There's something beguiling about the enticing autumnal tones of the apple section in your local greengrocer or supermarket. These days, sadly, many of the apples on offer are imported from other countries. But did you know that you could eat a different variety of English apple every day for over six years and still not eat the same one twice?
So what better way to celebrate Apple Day than to try a new variety of British fruit, such as a Blenheim Orange, Worcester Permain or Fair Maid of Taunton?
Aside from certain health benefits many apples provide, traditional orchards offer excellent conditions for wildlife to thrive. They are homes for at least 1,800 species: over 400 insects are dependent on the dead and decaying wood for food and nesting, many of which are nationally scarce, and 35 birds that are regarded as important farmland and woodland indicator species.
Traditional orchards, however, have declined by 90% since the 1950’s. With a recent survey by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) suggesting almost half of England’s and a third of Wales’s orchards were in poor condition.
Less than 10% were rated as being in excellent condition.
The main reasons for the decline in this habitat are neglect, modern farming practices, cheaper fruit imports and simple development of the land.
But the fortune of orchards and their wildlife may be about to get better. The PTES is aiming to reverse their decline and improve the quality of what we have left. Providing practical advice and help on orchard management and small grants, they suggest leaving dead and decaying trees and at the same time planting new apple trees, especially native varieties.
“By helping people to improve the condition of their orchards, we are also helping the wildlife that depends upon these special sites, such as bees and butterflies which are in decline. Furthermore, we are also helping to preserve rare fruit varieties, traditions, customs and knowledge,” said Megan Gimber, orchards officer for the PTES.
Wednesday 21 October is Apple Day, the annual celebration of apples and orchards, so happy eating!