Celebrated on 21 October, Apple Day is an annual festival to celebrate one of the UK’s much-loved fruits. Launched by Common Ground nearly 30 years ago, the initial idea behind Apple Day was to demonstrate the importance of our rich heritage of fruit growing and to raise awareness of the importance of local provenance food.
The first Apple Day took place in the old Apple Market of London’s Covent Garden when fruit was brought back to the market after an absence of more than a decade. Fruit growers, cider makers and authors of apple books came together with members of the Women’s Institute who sold homemade pies, crumbles and chutneys. The local Wildlife Trust also gave talks on orchard management and experts helped to identify different varieties of apple.
From humble beginnings, this autumn occasion has grown in popularity and now over 1000 local events take place in village halls, allotments and orchard societies across the UK. Alongside opportunities for tasting, juicing, and buying local apple products, people can take part in a wide range of innovative apple-themed games and activities. However, access to expert identification of apple varieties remains the most popular attraction.
To find out more about Apple Day events in your local area, visit the events pages on the National Trust and Wildlife Trust websites, or contact your local community orchard society.
A principle of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People aims to celebrate the power of trees to inspire us. Orchard traditions provide fun ways for communities to remember and strengthen the long-standing relationship between people, trees and pollinators demonstrated by fruit-growing. Orchard traditions should be nurtured, supported and celebrated, including Apple Day on 21 October and traditional orchard wassailing in early January. Show your support for apples and orchards by signing the charter here.
A bumper crop
For centuries, apples have provided a traditional accompaniment to the British dinner table. From chutneys, jellies and sauces served alongside meat and cheese to popular desserts such as pies, crumbles and toffee apples, there are endless uses for this delicious fruit. Processing and preserving your crop enables you to enjoy it for months after the final apple has fallen. Alternatively, leftover apples can be turned into a natural bird feeder rather than being wasted.
Grow your own
An apple tree makes the perfect addition to any wildlife garden or wildflower meadow. The native crab apple (Malus sylvestris) can provide you with a good crop of fruit - ideal if you’re partial to delicious crab apple jelly - and it offers a wide range of benefits to wildlife too. The leaves are a good food source for the caterpillars of native moths, such as the eyed hawk-moth and pale tussock. Pollinators such as bees use the flowers as an early source of pollen and nectar, and the fruit is eaten by birds, such as blackbirds and thrushes, and mammals, such as mice, voles and badgers.
Join the celebration
The success of Apple Day highlights the importance of the humble apple and our local orchards. Moreover, these events have encouraged wider interest in locally grown food and unusual varieties, and attracted new volunteers to orchard societies.
Whether you attend a local event, bake a crumble or even plant a crab apple from the Woodland Trust shop, Apple Day is the perfect time to celebrate one of our favourite harvest crops and the rich heritage of fruit growing that has existed in the UK for centuries.