They call it the Forbidden fruit; the golden one was blamed for the start of the Trojan War. The Norse gods assign their immortality to it and The Arabian Nights speak of a magic power of the fruit that cures all diseases.
Many poets dedicated their verses to the fruit and the painters paid their respect by immortalizing it on the canvas. Many languages are peppered with proverbs using the fruit’s name by stating that one keeps the doctor away, that it falls not far from the tree, that a rotten one spoils the whole barrel and that the beautiful ones are sometimes sour,….. Yes, we are talking about the apple…the fruit that is a symbol for sin and knowledge, for immortality, temptation and seduction. Unsurprisingly so since its Latin name Malus means both APPLE and EVIL.
Where does apple come from?
The DNA analyses show that apple originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan. UK alone has developed around 2500 varieties; the same number is grown on 50 acres orchard of USDA’s Plant Genetics Resources Unit in Geneva, NEW YORK. Nowadays, worldwide, we have around 7000 varieties of apples.
The fruit has travelled around the world for centuries and is now grown worldwide.
A sort of travelling streak has not bypassed the family history of the current High bank farm owners, Julie and Rod Calder-Potts from the Co Kilkenny in Ireland. It is a true adventure that started in 19th century by Rod’s great grandfather who came from the Orkney Islands to the Co Kilkenny around 1880. Rod’s mother met her husband, Rod’s father, towards the end of WW2 and moved to Sout Africa but returned to Ireland in1961 due to political changes that turned the country, as they described it, into “no place to raise a family of four young boys”. They bought a farm from his mother’s Uncle Billy and renamed it High bank .The hops growing was started in 1963 and the first apples, to compliment the hops gardens, were planted in 1969. The fertile Kilkenny soils are well suited for apple growing and the varieties carefully chosen are known for their juicing properties as well as vitamin and mineral content. This is how the full circle, from the North of Scotland to South Africa and back was closed. The family set out to transform the farm; in 1994 the farm production was converted to the Organic system of farming. They were simultaneously returning the entire farm to more environmentally inclusive husbandry so that they have now constructed two small lakes, developed woodland and wild life habitats. The renovation of this once famous historic estate is ongoing.
The farm production has also seen and undergone some changes, especially in the recent years.
Back in 2016, after the encounter with Shumei, the decision was made to start a trial with the Natural Agriculture approach the following year. Even after this first, trial year, the difference between the organic and Natural Agriculture was clearly noticeable. The Natural Agriculture area with no input whatsoever, was awash with clover, a nitrogen fixing plant. The organic input was very minimal, only a bit of cheese sludge. Seeing the difference and the transformation, whereby the nature itself was responding by making adjustments and prompting a change in the soil condition, Rod and Julie decided to convert the entire orchard to Natural Agriculture.
The farm is open to visitors, local schools and students and the owners are happy to share how they practice their farming. The apples from the High bank are turned into juices, vinegars, and treacle and apple syrup. They also produce ciders, apple wine, gin, vodka and brandy. All their products are made on site. A selection of the farm’s products is available on this site.
Each and every product has its own distinct flavour, texture, colour, nutritional value….yet they are all made from the same fruit that, thanks to its versatility just keeps giving.