The Apple Farm was founded in 1967 by the Traas family who moved from Holland. It took the family 50 years of hard work to cover all 10 acres in apples trees, forty thousand trees in total. About half the apples are sold fresh, another quarter are juiced and the remainder sold to Bulmers. Growing apple trees for commercial production is very labour intensive, with each tree needing training to form the A-shape needed to maximise production.
90 to 95% of the €100 million euro worth of apples eaten annually in Ireland are imported. Con Traas of The Apple Farm believes that due to the scale of imports, Irish consumers are now unfamiliar with native apple varieties and this leads to a reluctance to buy them, even if they are on the selves. He believes one of the advantages to growing our own apples at home means we become much more familiar with native varieties, more aware of when apples are in season and so more likely to seek out and buy Irish apples. In GIY we call this innate connection with food that comes from growing it Food Empathy and it is a core part of what we do. Irish grown varieties, for future reference, include, Discovery, Katy, Jonagold and Elstars. Glas, Charles Ross, Gibbons Russet and James Grieve.
Bord Bia issued a Food Alert for apples in 2015, alarmed at the declining market, particularly for Irish growers. One reason for the decline was a reduced demand for cooking apples in under 65s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, less Irish people are baking and cooking with apples. So to do our bit to boost the market we have a beginners guide to fruit growing from our all-round horticultural genius, Richard Mee here, and a delicious selection of GIY apple recipes to tempt you here.