Heritage Apple Day

We’re celebrating 15 years of Heritage Apple Day – with an online twist this year!

Virtual Edition: October 3rd to October 11th, 2020

Heritage Apple Day honours the knowledge of heritage apples and the unique role of apples, crabapples, and orchards from centuries past in the area now known as Fort Langley. It is a fun family-friendly and commerce-free event for the community and apple lovers from all over.

Usually taking place the first Saturday in October with over 750 attendees – we can’t gather in person at the Derby Reach Heritage Area this year but we’re still celebrating virtually.

Where Did The Apples Go?

Online Zoom Presentation: Wednesday, October 7th | 7:00pm – 7:50pm

In celebration of Heritage Apple Day and local fruit, art, and agriculture – join us for a very interesting presentation and Q&A with local artist & author Sylvia Grace Borda.  REGISTER HERE by October 4th!

#OrchardLife with Laurelle

Join us virtually at Derry’s Orchard and Nursery with Laurelle, certified horticulturist and landscape designer. She’s answering our top apple-growing questions about life at the orchard in easy to digest apple video bites.

Take a look at the 6 videos below!

#1 Highlighting A Local Organic Orchard

#2 Apple Varieties & Favourites

#3 Pollinating Apple Trees

#4 Heroes of the Orchard

#5 Seeds Are Not What They Seem

#6 Grafting Made Simple

Anything Apple Photo Contest

Enter to win 1 of 6 $25 gift cards to either Lelem’ Cafe or Into Chocolate – two Fort Langley staples for seriously good eats.

It’s apple season so let’s fill our newsfeeds with beautiful apple photos! From October 3rd to 11th, 2020 share an original photo of anything apple on Facebook or Instagram and tag us @DRBIPA so we get notified of your contest entries. Fresh apples, growing apples, baked apples…apple art, apple accessories, apple fashion…anything apple!

Each photo of anything apple tagging @DRBIPA on Facebook or Instagram between October 3rd and 11th will count as one entry into the prize draw. Be sure to follow us. Photos must be your own or shared with permission. The local gift card prizes will only be mailed out to addresses in Langley, BC and surrounding areas of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

2020 Apple Highlights

Thank a fruit tree and a fruit tree expert! We’ve learned so much from the BC Fruit Testers Association at past Heritage Apple Day celebrations. It is a nonprofit organization all about sharing an interest in the science and cultivation of fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, vines and plants. Members range from backyard hobbyists to professionals. The association collects useful information through holding fruit shows and then produces fact sheets, media campaigns, newsletters, workshops, tours, and pruning demonstrations. 

Fruit gleaning aims to collect and redistribute fruit found on local backyard trees that otherwise goes unused. The Langley Community Harvest Program by LEPS ensures that every year, thousands of pounds of fresh produce that might have become a nuisance after ripening on the tree or vine, is instead benefiting families, seniors, and other members of our community in need. Residents of the Langley area who have a fruit tree on their property can join the registry. When the fruit is ripe, LEPS staff organize volunteers to harvest, and the fruit is shared between the tree donors, volunteers, and community organizations like local food banks. Reach out to the team at LEPS to get involved! 

Give Us Apple Everything! It is apple season after all so check out our Heritage Apple Day Inspiration Pinterest Board. We have barrels full of apple-solutely wonderful links from apple pie to DIY apple cider presses, from cinnamon apple pancake topping to how to preserve your extra apples, there is even a recipe for apple nachos – YUM.  In no way does DRBIPA guarantee the safety of these recipes nor the safety of your waistline. 

There are over 10,000 varieties of known apples in the world and about 1,500 can easily be grown around Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Apples grow so well in our area but our land is home to only one native species of apple. The Pacific Crab Apple, first known as asqwa’up (fruit) qwa’upulhp (tree) to some of the First Nations throughout the unceded Coast Salish territories along the west coast. Crabapples were traditionally stored in baskets underwater after harvesting, this helped preserve them as they sweetened with age. The sturdy wood of the crabapple was used along the coast to make tools and the bark was also used to make medicines. These tiny fruits make excellent jelly, have delicious apple-scented blossoms in spring, and ripen in early fall. Centuries-old crabapple trees can still be found throughout Langley, recognizable by their thick scaly grey bark. Find out more HERE by Dr. Richard Hebda, Curator of Botany and Earth History at the Royal BC Museum. 

We’ve always been fascinated by the old apple trees and orchards of Derby Reach and beyond. Scattered throughout Langley, BC before our time. Here’s a throwback to our DRBIPA Heritage Apple Self-Guided Tour, originally printed in 2008. Time flies! You can still bring this self-guided tour up on your mobile device or print a copy to lead you on a very a-peel-ing walk along the Fraser River at the Derby Reach Heritage Area. 

Volunteer Celebrations

Written by Anne Gosse 2020, Langley Field Naturalist, DRBIPA Park Ambassador, and Heritage Apple Day Coordinator of Volunteers

DRBIPA’s Heritage Apple Day is a day all about Langley’s Heritage Apples.  However, it’s also a day full of enjoyment, fun and of appreciation for our dedicated Apple Day volunteers.  The volunteers come from all walks of life in our community and they have faithfully signed-up again and again each year.  Some even bring their young children or grandchildren to work as helpers for the day, thus passing along the seeds of volunteerism and community involvement.

One can easily identify an Apple Day volunteer; they are dressed in bright red apple aprons, rolled up sleeves ready to pitch in, while generating lots of happy chatter and laughter behind those apple tables. The apple-tasting tent at times can be very busy with fair-goers about local apple varieties and where to buy them. Whether it’s encouraging the fair-goers to try the different species, or suggesting which apple makes a better “baker” – or one that makes a yummy “apple sauce” – it is all done with a lot of chat and enthusiasm.  Most volunteers soon develop a favourite apple and happily encourage people to give them a try.  Big-eyed-youngsters enjoy tasting the samples as well – some with very full cheeks circling the tables to try the apples more than once!

Amid lots of good-natured banter, our strongest volunteers help “quarter” the apples for tasting, while other apple tent volunteers cut and attach toothpicks to the plate samples. Volunteers also maintain the display booths to acquaint people with local organizations like LEPS, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, the BC Fruit TestersAssociation, DRBIPA, and more. Some volunteers happily demonstrate various old-time wooden toys and other volunteers show eager youngsters how to peel apples on an ancient but fun apple peeling machine.  Meanwhile, in the background, volunteers have merry fiddler’s music to listen to and can take part in guided tours; or perhaps watch the children jumping in the hay pile and enjoying learning about farming tools. Approximately 40 volunteers assist us each year – we are so thankful for each and every one!

At the closing of Heritage Apple Day, the assistance from the many wonderful volunteers makes the cleaning-up process go fairly quickly.  Afterwards in appreciation, the volunteers are treated to a well-deserved picnic lunch at the park.

Without the wonderful support of these volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to hold this community celebration of the old heritage apple trees in the Fort Langley area. Unfortunately, this fun event can’t be held in-person this year due to Covid-19, however, we send our most grateful appreciation to all our Apple Day volunteers from years past and we hope to see you all again in 2021!

Stories of the Old Orchards

The Forgotten Orchards of Derby Reach, Written by Sharon Meenely, 2003 DRBIPA Newsletter

One of those magical moments that have become indelibly imprinted on my mind forever occurred in Derby Reach Park. Walking with my neighbour on a sunlit morning in early summer, hours before the press of crowds arrived, we crested the highest hill behind the Markow barn. There, beneath of the sprawling limbs of the largest apple tree, lay a glossy wet newborn foal with its mother nearby. The birth was so recent that the intact placenta lay nearby, and ours were the first human eyes to witness that wondrous miracle. We stood transfixed for ages, unable to take our eyes away as the mother nudged her offspring to a vertical position. And I couldn’t help but think that she had found the most beautiful spot in the world to give birth to her foal. She, no doubt, had thought of the safety that the high vantage point afforded; with the fence behind her and a vista that would reveal all comers, she could defend her little one from any assault.

To this day, I cannot pass that particular spot on the trail without a smile passing my lips. Years have come and gone, and the mother has become older and the baby grown to adulthood, yet the trees remain pretty much the same—a little older, perhaps, and little more crowded by the vines of blackberries. Those trees have grown on the crest of that hill alongside of the Fraser River for more than a century.

Curious to know exactly how old they were and what variety they were, I talked to Danny Markow. Danny’s father, William Markow had bought the property in 1933, when Danny was only ten. At that time, the hilly bank was twice as high as it is now; the property that was 25 acres is now only 18. The relentless surge of the river around the S-bend has taken its toll over the years.

According to Danny, the orchard was planted in the early 1890s by a Black man named Roger, whose last name he did not know. Roger had a little house next to the river and that house burned down to the ground before 1895. For a while after the house burned, Roger lived in a root cellar, under the roots of a large tree. And while Roger is long gone, remnants of his orchard remain.

Most of the trees were Northern Spy; some were crosses of King and Northern Spy. There were winter apples and russet apples; there were also winter pears, both round and long. Today, the remaining trees still produce fruit and provide shelter for the well-loved horses that claim the pasture. They attract birds and other animals as well. A year or two ago, in late summer, when there was bear activity along the trail, trampled vines and bear traces could be found beneath the pear tree on the river-side of the trail. I have no doubt he found them delicious!

Further down the Fort-to-Fort Trail, north of the cairn, there are more apple trees that might have been planted by the men of the original Fort. These, according to Alf Trattle in a Langley Times article printed on January 6, 2002, include a Wolf River apple tree that is one of the oldest apple trees in the Fort. “’It produced a great cooking apple,’ Trattle remember[ed]. ‘Once a year [his] mother would go down to the tree and pick a full basket of these apples for her cooking.’”

Today, all of these trees are overrun with invasive vines and badly in need of pruning. Perhaps the time has come to reclaim these forgotten orchards in Derby Reach Park and reclaim some of our lost history.