English Apples - The importance of the national fruit collection

An article by Ian Jack on Brogdale's National Fruit Collection, and how its future is threatened, was published in the Guardian on 8 Sep 2007.

The article attracted some comments on the Guardian blog. Two informative contributions are summarised below. The Guardian article can be found at www.guardian.co.uk and going to the edition of 8 Sept 2007, or by entering the words Ian Jack Brogdale into the Google search engine.

First, Heather Hooper:

......Anyone who has visited Brogdale will know how truly wonderous it is. The biggest fruit collection in the world in a single place, it has over 4000 fruit varieties. Inspiring in any season, it is a particular joy to visit at blossom time and when the fruits are ripening.

The future of these Collections as living trees is now under threat. The land on which the Collections are held is owned by a (philanthropic) landlord. The trees, bushes, etc are owned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and are managed by the Brogdale Horticultural Trust. Earlier this year, Defra (for reasons which remain unclear) took the decision to put the management of the National Fruit Collections out to competitive tender. Within the tender document there is provision for whoever wins the contract to move the Collections off-site and there is no guarantee that public access will be maintained. The Chief Executive of the Trust is on record as saying that if the Trust wins the tender it will move from Brogdale.

To move the Collections from their present site would risk incurring significant national loss. It is possible that not all fruit varieties would be retained as living trees and that some may be preserved only cryogenically, which itself carries inherent risks: cryopreservation has not been fully tested and its long-term effects are uncertain. (...note from ND – twigs in freezers? A basis for a National Fruit Collection?)

The Collections at Brogdale Farm have been described as the Victoria and Albert Museum of fruit. They constitute a priceless national asset, not only of scientific significance but also of cultural, environmental and conservation importance. They are part of our history and of our inheritance. Other countries regard them with admiration and envy and people come from all over the world to see them.

Anyone who wishes to know more and/or who would be interested in helping to keep the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale should visit the website of Dr Joan Morgan (author of the classic The New Book of Apples) www.fruitforum.net or her blog: fruitforum.wordpress.com, which is available on the fruitforum site.

The second contribution is from a person living abroad whom I'll call g-g:

............The trouble at the National Fruit Collection is typical of today's Britain, where almost nobody thinks of the interests of future generations and what we should hand on to them.

But it is also those who are already born who will need the fruit which grows best in their own localities.

Within twenty years, whenever the British bid to provide an overseas service they will be undercut by an offer from another country.

I now live out in rural SE Asia, in a place the size of England and Wales, but there won't be many of you who have even heard of Isaan.

Here and elsewhere, young people here are flocking to get degrees. But, unlike the British, these graduates will live cheaply in simple housing with no heating bills. They, or others like them, will take all the international contracts on offer.

Without foreign earnings, the UK will not be able to pay for imports of fuel and food. You will have to live on what you can grow yourselves. And it won't be Golden Delicious.

It is time the British understood this. Today's kids need to to prepare themselves for it.

A few years ago, to supplement my pension, I used to come over to Yorkshire as an economic migrant and do Supply Teaching for the summer term and for the first half of the Autumn Term. I was horrified to find that the school no longer did Rural Science.

The historians of the future will look back and see your “National Curriculum” as having been institutionalised child abuse.

Wake up, Britain. Prepare your kids for what will be their lot. And start by securing the future of those apples.

Page compiled by ND. If anyone objects to their contribtion being used, please email me and it will be deleted; I do not know how to contact you.

Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Contact Us