VICTORY GARDENS: On Where To Grow, Harvest, Eat, And Celebrate Local Apples
by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | The Fall apple harvest is cause for celebration. The original forbidden fruit is botanically named Malus and ripens in concert with the changing colours of the leaves. Apples are a staple in our diets, as they store well and sustain us for the better part of the year. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, yet we only see a few of them our grocery stores. Crabapples, Gravenstein, Bramley, Prima, Discovery, King, Boskoop, Spartan, Northern Spy, Gloster, Summer Red, Sinta, Ambrosia, Spartan, Jonagold, Nicola, Golden Delicious, Winter Banana – the variety astounds.
Where to Grow and Harvest: Vancouverites are tight on living space and few properties have private orchards, but some can sneak in a couple of espaliered dwarves into their backyards. If you haven’t the space for that, check out the newly integrated Copley Community Orchard by Trout Lake and the Nanaimo sky train station; such an awesome concept! They accept volunteers and have work party dates where the community convenes to learn more about apples. If you are growing your own, be sure to remember that in terms of pollination, they need apple tree friends; their chromosomal makeup varies with cultivars – they can be either diploids or triploids (so do your homework); Crabapples are everyone’s pollinating friend.
Where to Eat: If you’re simply craving a juicy, locally-grown apple variety, check out the good ol’ farmers market. Klippers Organics never ceases to deliver the best apples you have ever eaten, as well as apple chips, apple cider vinegar, and applesauce. If you are craving an incredible dish with the new season of apple goodness, head over to The Acorn on Main Street and try their Apple Arancini stuffed with goats cheese and served with Okanagan apples and baby mizuna.
Where to Celebrate: Apple season also means the promise of cider! Go on a little fall road trip and visit a cidery. Merridale Cidery is located on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, an easy weekend getaway that isn’t too far from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they’ve hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.