Apple Day

Apple Day 2nd October 2005. A steady stream of punters came through the gate during the course of the day, with the real hardened drinkers staying for an elongated session into the night. It was a boisterous affair as one could imagine. The day started off sweet, with one particular family arriving right on schedule at 11am. With no time to waste they were drafted in to help set up the area. The previous year’s location for the apple press and scratter, quite a substantial piece of equipment requiring at least three square metres of movement and observation space, was now a rather fancy bed bordered with some local coppiced woven wood. Admittedly the plants are making slow progress in the area, the stifling clay discretely hidden under a pile of wood chip. With the addition of leaf fall there is a rather subdued look to the developing landscape, since the oranges, reds, yellows and browns of the different variety of leaves now carpet the whole plot. This is one of those quickly forgotten benefits of working in woodland when so much focus in the year has been on human construction and event scheduling. I only look forward to the spring show of bulbs to welcome back the year after the cold of winter. After a substantial amount of rain during the week I wondered at the prospect of people turning the crank on the press under so much slipperiness. But in fateful coincidence the day turned out to be gloriously bright. There were a few more children this year also, and with the added addition of pizza and bread production their active little hands were put to creative use. But this is passive learning and has permaculture written all over it. Being in an area of trees amongst structures, live and dead, gathered from that environment creates a bridge between human inventiveness and nature. My one omission from this year’s event is that I still have to go to Kent to source my apples. But that tells one about the need to design for a sustainable landscape – so an orchard is in the thinking, one in which the local people will participate in its planting and making. Besides, I managed to salvage another van at the farm, which can now be used as spare parts for my existing vehicle. It is parked at a nearby stable where my sister keeps her horse. The opportunity to develop links within a bioregional context bolsters what true permaculture design is, from the material to the social to the spiritual dimensions. With six gallons of apple juice, now fermenting away for the Christmas drink, ten varieties of apples on display, some hot apple juice fused with orange, ginger and cinnamon, some lovely seasonal pumpkin soup, the day was a cracking success. Admittedly there were a few snaps, crackles and pops coming from the trees, as even the hardiest of drinkers were pole-axed on six pints of imported Somerset cider. There was late night music around the campfire that mitigated the screams and laughter coming from a shadowy group off to one side. And there was Betty Boars the cob oven who wondered what the great fuss was all about as she sat there passive.