When I heard about a project to have small orchards planted around the city, I was intrigued. When I heard that these apple trees would be grafted from the UCD orchard of heritage Irish apple trees, I was delighted.
In case you haven’t heard, nothing compares to the taste of traditional Irish apples.
So I went to the grafting workshop organised by Common Ground in collaboration with the artist Seoidín O’Sullivan. Common Ground is an arts organisation that was founded in 1998 to explore the potential role of the arts in the renewal and development of local urban communities.
From the beginning, O’Sullivan loved the idea of grafting. “You don’t plant seeds”, she says, “You have to graft! You take a branch and attach it to a root stock to be assured of the type of tree that you want…”
So there we were, affixing little scions of heritage apple tree to crab apple roots. (it’s almost impossible to get the two edges to match). Then you tie them with a rubber band and then, dip the lot in melted wax to seal the joint. If you’ve done it correctly, a new apple tree will grow from this humble twig.
You need eight trees to have an orchard, they say, and wouldn’t it be lovely to have more communal orchards around the city? – Beautiful blossoms in Spring and juicy apples in the Autumn (if the little rascals don’t rob them first) (but what harm?)
What about apple trees in our public parks? What about planting orchards in our green areas? On our city streets or in the urban squares?
The bees would love it too, I’m sure.
But back to O’Sullivan… “Growing trees and vegetables in the city is not a new phenomenon”, she said. She showed us a map from 1910 showing planned allotments all over the city. Now more than ever, it make good sense.
And finally, did you hear of the charity called Falling Fruits Ireland. Believe it or not, hundreds of fruit trees go unpicked each year. Falling Fruit organises teams of volunteers to pick the fruit and distribute it to local charities and other good causes.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, they say. But I think that it does a lot more than that. – Wouldn’t you agree?