I’ve been planning this post since the last folk music gig I put on at Bridgwater Arts Centre at which Steve Ashley and Gitta de Ridder provided us with one of the best evenings I can remember in a long time. Gitta was full of charm and had a lovely stage presence that the audience warmed to very quickly (read our recent interview with Gitta here). Steve, as always, had his performance down to perfection. Whilst he’s been doing this sort of thing for over 50 years now it had all the magic you’d expect from such a folk legend. His engaging songs and infectious humour had the audience veering from laughter to tears and sometimes both at the same time, he’s certainly in my top list of British folk singers and I wouldn’t hesitate to book him again… that’s a big hint to those that run folk clubs out there.
On the evening he reminded everyone that Apple Day was coming and sang ‘Say Goodbye‘, a beautiful song about our disappearing orchards and our rapidly declining varieties of apples, something the supermarkets don’t help with…you’d think we only had five varieties, not the 2000 grown in this country.
About two thirds of Britain’s orchards have been lost since 1960. Devon, for example, has lost 90% of its orchard since the Second World War.
Well, Apple Day is today and the it’s all been very much on mind since the weekend. As some of you may know we live in Somerset and my in-laws live just two fields away from us along the River Tone where they have a smallholding. They also have an old Orchard where you’ll find some lovely apple varieties:
Well, last weekend we (my wife and two sons) were helping them pick apples for cider making. The photos are taken from there and after bagging 60 sacks of apples it was time for some apple cake…(you should try it, it’s lush).
So it will become obvious why I chose this song…enjoy and make sure you visit the Common Ground website!
The apple is a wonderful symbol of variety and meaning; the orchard a rich example of our cultural landscape. Together, the apple and the orchard provide a way of expressing both the robustness and the vulnerability of our local landscape and culture. With the loss of an orchard goes the loss of ecological diversity and the loss of knowledge of recipes, songs, customs, wassailing, cider-making. Lost too are the social gatherings for work and pleasure, the sharing of knowledge about the place and the sharing of skills of pruning, grafting and growing. The intricacy of a community and its distinctiveness is diminished if orchards and apple varieties are lost.
Find out more about what you can do to help stop the decline of our orchards here: commonground.org.uk/projects/orchards/