On Saturday, October 14th, the Grist Mill and Gardens historic site will be hosting it’s popular annual Apple Day and its volunteers are currently seeking out heritage and non-market apples from backyards and orchards in the Similkameen and South Okanagan.
The Grist Mill site has long been active in preserving heritage ornamental and agricultural varieties of grains, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Part of it’s unique collection includes an orchard with almost eighty varieties of heritage apple on site. This collection of trees served as partial inspiration for the first Apple Day, almost thirty years ago.
“A major component of Apple Day is a display featuring a wide variety of heritage and non-commercial apples, but each year, more and more orchards are plowed under to make room for newer, more profitable varieties of fruit,” says Chris Mathieson, General Manager of the site. “Often, unique and historically important varieties disappear, making it more and more challenging to find living examples of them.”
The Grist Mill is interested in hearing from anyone who may have an unusual or interesting apple variety growing in their backyard or orchard, so that they might collect a few apples from that variety for their display. The volunteer group also sells some of those apples as a fundraiser for their work on site, if a bushel of the variety is donated.
(Click on this link for a list of some of the apple varieties grown historically in the Okanagan / Similkameen.)
This year, the site is working extra hard to try and find samples of one particular heritage apple with deep Similkameen roots: the “Richter’s Banana” apple. This apple was developed by Frank Richter, one of the early white settlers in the Similkameen Valley and won several awards at the Provincial Exhibition in 1910. The Grist Mill had a tree of the variety until it died about 15 years ago.
Anyone with an interesting apple variety or leads on the Richter’s Banana should contact the Grist Mill and Gardens at 250-499-2888 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission to Apple Day on October 14th is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. More information about Apple Day, including the on site activities for the day can be found at http://www.oldgristmill.ca/event/apple-day-2017/.