IT was a pressing engagement.
More than 50 people went down to Paddock Farm in West Slaithwaite laden with fresh apples to make into juice.
They had gathered the apples from their own or neighbours’ gardens, or harvested wild crabapples to press.
The Colne Valley event, named Apple Day, was organised by Edibles, which is a food growing project based in the valley.
Rosie Lonnon, one of the partners at Edibles told the Examiner: “Within no time people organised themselves into washing, chopping, shredding and pressing.
“Gallons of juice was pressed – each batch tasting a little different from the last – but just as intense in flavour.”
Children got busy making toffee apples, eating apples on strings and making willow bird feeders with willow artist Rachel Poole.
Rosie said: “It was a great day for everyone to enjoy harvesting together. It felt like a real rite of autumn.”
Edibles has joined a growing movement to preserve and promote the diversity of apple varieties that we think of as British.
Mother-of-two Rosie said: “Apples originated in Central Asia, in the apple woods outside the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan.
“It seems that apples travelled Westwards along the Silk Road, and walled gardens existed in Persia and Mesopotamia as early as 5000BC.
“Although the Celts spoke of apple groves, it was the Romans and their love of horticulture that brought orchards to Britain.
“It became the tradition in Britain and Italy to cultivate orchards on country estates.
“Had it not been for the monasteries, all Roman horticultural knowledge would have been lost, since gardening was at the heart of monastic life.
“Apples were eaten fresh, cooked, dried, turned into cider and cider vinegar. The monastic libraries also helped to preserve their extensive knowledge.
“By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, gardeners and nurserymen collected, bred and cherished many apple varieties which have sadly declined with cheap imports from overseas.”
Edibles ran a course last year and grafted 200 apple trees of 40 different British varieties gathered from local orchard enthusiasts and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Many will be planted in local schools and sold to individuals. This year Edibles plan to graft 500 trees and are looking to find more Yorkshire and heritage varieties.
Have you space in your garden to plant an apple tree this winter and help preserve Britain’s horticultural heritage?
For information on the Edibles tree grafting course and apple nursery see www.edibles.org.uk