It might be August and the height of summer but already minds are turning to bringing in the harvest and the apple haul this year will be rather varied – thanks to The Prince of Wales. Charles has been growing a wide range of rare and historic apples to help try and preserve the fruit.
The Prince has planted over 1,000 different types of apple at Home Farm near his Highgrove Estate. Among the species of the fruit now taking root is one first brought to England in Roman times and a variety taken from a tree in Isaac Newton’s garden at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.
Charles is developing the orchard because of his concerns that just a small range of apples are beginning to dominate fruit production in the United Kingdom. David Wilson, who manages Home Farm, said ‘the main reason for planting….was genetic conservation, which is a theme the Prince of Wales regards as one of the central strands of sustainability’.
It is understood that The Prince of Wales has been working with two famous apple conservation projects to cultivate his orchard. The Nation Fruit Collection which is based at Brogdale Farm in Kent has been involved as has the Worcestershire based nursery, Frank P Matthews. Part of the royal orchard has been planted out with grafts taken from trees at both places.
Home Farm, which has a wide range of other crops growing on its land as well as livestock, is managed organically and the apple project will also be looked after along the same lines.
And it seems that the Prince’s hope that this royal orchard will help increase the variety of apples readily available across the country is already coming closer to reality. The supermarket chain, Tesco, has said that it is currently testing six of the strains being produced by Prince Charles with a view to possibly stocking them in their stores.
Photo credit: Eric Fidler via Flickr