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Book today for Tru-Cape’s Heritage Orchard Open Day, Feb 26.

Three generations of Baldie’s, Linda, David and Robin, stand in front of the ancient Kroon apple tree on their farm in Misgund, in the Langkloof. The newly planted tree, in the Tru-Cape Heritage Orchard at Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, in the Western Cape, was made from budwood from this original tree. Visitors to the Tru-Cape Heritage Orchard Open Day on February 26, 2022 will be able to see and taste the Kroon apple and many others.

Heritage apple and pear varieties that are no longer in commercial production are being saved for future generations in the Tru-Cape Heritage Orchard on Oak Valley Estate, Elgin in South Africa’s Western Cape.

For Tru-Cape, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, protecting the genetics of nearly lost varieties is essential. Buks Nel, recognised by the SA Fruit Industry for his role in innovation following the discovery of FLASH GALA ™,  says while his job is focused on new variety development, old varieties are also important. “If you don’t know where you’ve been you can’t know where you are going,” Nel says.

Each year Tru-Cape opens the Heritage Orchard for a guided walkabout and this year it will be on Saturday, February 26 at 10am.

“Although the orchard visit is free of charge we have to limit the number of people and so tickets have to be booked at Quicket and shown at the gate,” Nel says.

People can expect to see, touch and taste older varieties such as Northern Spy, Pomme de Neige and many others.

The tour is hosted by Tru-Cape’s Quality Assurance Manager, Henk Griessel and Buks Nel at Oak Valley Estate. 

According to Griessel and Nel, who co-authored a book on historic apple varietals, “Apples in the early days at the Cape”, available for purchase from Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing at R300 a copy, the Kroonappel will be one of the varieties available to taste.

“Further investigation has shown that there were four Kroonappels, but it is most likely that the one around at the Cape in 1723 was the Kroon-Appel with the synonyms Fyne Kroon, Aagt-appel, Engelsche or Hollandsche Aagt or Lekker Beetje. This apple is from Holland. The Kroonappel’s fruit is described as of medium size, round, but sometimes lop-sided, the skin is smooth, colour is green-yellowish with pale red stripes. The flesh is soft, somewhat yellow with a very pleasant herby taste. It is said to be a good table apple. The tree is relatively large and bears well. Tracing the whereabouts of the Kroon-appel or Aagt (appel) was very interesting though extremely sketchy, based purely on personal communications and a few magazine snippets”, says Griessel.

Please note that no seating, bathroom or refreshment facilities will be available in the orchard and people should consider sensible walking shoes and be sure to have appropriate weather and sun protection.

In April 2019, Tru-Cape together with Hortgro, replanted the Witte Wijnappel – the first apple picked at the Cape, in its original home in The Company’s Gardens and thereafter also in the Tru-Cape Heritage Orchard and at Babylonstoren. There will be in opportunity to taste this fruit too.

Booking for the Tru-Cape Heritage Orchard Open Days is via quicket.co.za or by clicking here to book for the 10am to 12noon session.

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