Heritage and Rare Fruit Network

Neil Barraclough neilb at vic.australis.com.au
Mon May 27 07:41:02 EDT 1991

Some 12 years ago a network was established in East Gippsland to
co-ordinate and assist the preservation of the rare and endangered fruit
trees that have been dissappearing over time.  If you go back a hundred
years people were much more self reliant, often growing much more of
their own food than happens in todays consumer society.

Some examples of the diversity that was once around-

In 1896 at the Royal Horticultural Gardens, Richmond Park, Burnley,
there were a total of 2,545 varieties of fruiting plant and 133
varieties of potato growing.  The 2,545 varieties of fruiting plant
included about 830 apples (including Crab Apples), the majority of which
seem to have disappeared without trace. In 1914 the catalogue of Chas J
Goodman Nurseries, Picnic Point, Bairnsdale, listed 193 apple varieties.

The catalogue also had note that people will note that they have
considerably reduced the number of apples on this years catalogue.

An apple a day.
The 1875 cataloge of Frogmore Nursery, Geelong says they have apples
ripening in regular succession from January to November and give the
ripening times for Stone Pippin, which they describe as one of the best
keepers as from August till January.  The catalogue listed 106 apple

We can't afford to be loosing the diversity we have been loosing so
attempts are being made to get the network happening again,
re-establishing the values and aims of when the network was initially

Apples give a perfect example of what we are loosing, A selection of
perhaps 10-15 trees a hundred years ago could have allowed the home
gardener to produce apples for 10-12 months of the year.  With the
advent of cool storage, orchardists could keep apples on the shop shelf
for 12 months of the year with perhaps 3 or 4 varieties only and often
it's only the ones with best eye appeal that have remained in favour.

The data bank the network was origionally based on is being updated and
the emphasis on providing information that helps people to get the
greatest value from their plantings is continuing.  For many of the
fruit types we have some ripening times info and a lot of other useful
info as well.

A large part of the networks focus is on helping groups such as
permaculture, organic, biodynamic and garden groups become involved as a
group learning activiety.  We are also listing supliers of heritage
trees to assist people wanting to buy their trees.

We are selling computer disks at $7 mailed and they have a lot of
information that should be of use to anyone wanting to produce their own
food.  In addition we are assisting people and groups to learn how to do
their own propagating and sourcing everything they need.

Profits from sale of disks go to The Crossing Landcare Education Centre
and Beths Farm.  Beth's Farm is a 23 acre property on the north east
edge of Melbourne that has been left in a Trust to be developed as a
demonstration of permaculture and the preservation of biodiversity for
more info contact Bridget at bbainbri at hotmail.com

The Crossing Land Care Education Centre is being developed at Bermagui
by Dean and Annette Turner as a place where students can get a better
understanding of the need for us to find harmony with the environment,
with preservation of biodiversity part of that, Dean and Annette may be
contacted at tclec at yahoo.com

Two great projects that people can be involved with during the
development and be part of a great learning experience as they are

We would be particularly interested to hear from anyone that knows of
any varieties of fruit trees growing that they think may be uncommon and
would be very keen to hear of any old catalogues, we would pay copying
and postage costs.

Join us!

Neil Barraclough c/-
Briagolong P.O. 3860
04 2913 3064
neilb at vic.australis.com.au

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