All photography © Heather Elizabeth Wilkinson 2012
Autumn is my favourite season – the changes in light, misty mornings and the promise that we’ll soon be wrapping up cosily in hats and scarves. But of course Autumn brings with it some fantastic seasonal produce – pumpkins, elderberries, chestnuts, game, pears, and the daddy of English autumnal produce: apples.
Apple Festival takes place on 21st October each year and orchards and farms up and down the country organise festivities to celebrate this wonderful fruit. What great month to be an apple!
Brogdale Farm in Kent is home to the National Fruit Collection; the World’s largest collection of fruit trees and plants and home to over 3,500 varieties of apple, pear, plum, cherry, bush fruit, vine and cob nut cultivators.
Brogdale has been on my list of places to visit for a while now, so the Apple Festival (20th & 21st October 2012) was just the excuse I needed to hotfoot it to Kent. The festival itself is quite a family affair, with various food & drink stalls, crafts and live music (it’s safe to say that some of the bands were an ‘acquired’ taste).
Included in the ticket price is a guided tour of the orchards, each one being led by one of Brogdale’s knowledgeable staff, many of whom are volunteers. For me, this was one of the highlights of the visit. You can quite literally loose yourself wandering up and down the lines of trees looking at fruits of all different sizes and colours. And with names like the: Marriage-maker, Blackbird, Prince Edward it really is a fantastic way to spend a few hours.
And of course, no apple festival would be complete without a generous dose of apple sampling. At the heart of the festival arena was a large tent with over 400 varieties of apple on display and over 200 for visitors to taste and buy. To be honest, this part of the festival was a bit of a free-for-all, and you had to employ some elbowing tactics to stand any chance of trying the apples that had been laid out. Still, I managed to try plenty and came away a mixed bag (quite literally) of my favourites.
I decided not to cook with the apples I bought, preferring instead as an alternative to dessert. When produce is in season and so tasty it’s sometimes nice to enjoy it just as it is, don’t you think?