They’re local, they’re fresh, they’re unwaxed and uncoated, they’re packed with nutrition, and they’re right here in Maitland ready for you! They’re Tilse Apples, they’re from the Upper Hunter and they’re ONLY $2.50/kg (and I hope that’s the last “they’re” you will have to read on this page).
The apples will be available at the Maitland Slow Food Earth Market on Thursday 7th March and at the Maitland Taste Festival 9th and 10th March at the Slow Food Farmer’s Market Stall (at the Maitland Post Office end of the Levee) (or until sold out).
On Sunday, 3rd March a group of Slow Food members and volunteers spent the day picking 200kg of apples at the Tilse Apple Orchard. The apple picking was an initiative borne out of a fortuitous conversation between two Slow Food Hunter Valley executives – Anne Kelly and Amorelle Dempster – and one of the orchard owners, Steve Tilse.
Located at the junction of the Hunter River and the Omadale Brook, the orchard is a spectacular oasis that has weathered the financial ups and downs of Australia’s often fickle economic market-place. Apple growing, like many other types of farming in Australia, does not pay highly. The cost of picking, low prices from supermarkets, and the high level of rejection for undersized or imperfect fruit have taken their toll. The problems are compounded by the fact that irrigation in the orchard has stopped due to shortfalls in water availability (although there is some comfort in the fact that the water issues come almost at the end of the season).
Perhaps the most interesting part of this is that supermarket prices for apples vary on one supermarket website from $4.90 to $7.90/kg while another major supermarket website has them at between $2.70 (for juicing apples) to $7.00/kg. The majority of the apples are in the $6.00 to $7.90/kg range.
Anne Kelly, Leader of Slow Food Hunter Valley, was part of the picking crew on Sunday. She said “there are hundreds of magnificent trees and they are bowing under the weight of the fruit”. She said the apples are now starting to drop and feral pigs are eating the fallen fruit at night.
Tilse grows three varieties of apples – Jonathan, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. The Jonathan apples were harvested during February leaving the Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples for the Slow Food crew.
If you like local, seasonal, fresh fruit that is packed with nutrition (and helps support local farming), come and see us at the Slow Food stand this Thursday in the Levee (7th March) (at the Post Office end of the Levee). We are also holding over some of the apples for the Maitland Taste Festival (9th and 10th March) where they will be available on the Slow Food Farmers Market Stall (along the sidewalk opposite the Post Office).
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