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Apples pressed and records crushed

Portmoak apple day was a record breaking event. Good to look back on, as the dark nights set in.

We had a bigger crowd, more baking and more fresh apple juice than we’ve ever seen. Also, it took place on an October afternoon when the sun shone and there wasn’t a drop of rain - noteworthy in itself! 

It was Sunday, 1st October, there were frequent showers and dark clouds gathered on the horizon. Up until the last minute Portmoak Community Woodland Group was poised to move everything from the community orchard, in Kilmagad Wood, to Portmoak Village Hall. But we got lucky. Just as we finished setting up the weather turned warm and dry. 

That was enough to bring out a crowd of around 200 people - a big leap from our previous record of 120. It was just as well group members had spent many hours creating apple-themed baking. The catering table was laden with cakes, tarts, cupcakes, flapjacks and a new tray bake, developed by Graham Smith.

He had kept the recipe secret but he’s now revealed that his Apple Tray Bake Spectacular involved drying apples, melting chocolate and adding icing sugar to one tray and marzipan to the other. It was fabulous.

This autumn didn’t see our largest apple crop but the summer rain had helped to swell the fruit and that, together with apples from peoples’ gardens, meant we pressed an extraordinary quantity of juice. We estimate that around 100 litres went into the containers brought byeveryone. We’re very grateful to all the friends and relations who rolled up their sleeves and helped out on the day. 

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Donations were down a bit, which may have been a sign of the times, though we were delighted to collect £365.70, which covered the event costs and will allow us to invest in more equipment and tools for the year ahead. 

It was also good to welcome back Andrew Lear, aka Appletreeman, who was more popular than ever, attracting a queue of folk keen to have him identify apples they’d brought along. He also found time to identify apples in the orchard which had lost their labels. Group member, Sheila Buchanan, has mapped all the trees and we're aiming to get new labels so that everyone can see what an extraordinary variety of species are planted there.

We were pleased to see lots of young families and the children were a great help, bringing in the harvest (as well as enjoying all the games and quizzes). They weren’t the only apple pickers this year. Over three days, at the end of September, we were pleased to welcome around 150 visitors, from far and wide, for some special Woodland Trust members’ events. They collected the first of the season's fruit and enjoyed some freshly pressed juice. 

Looking ahead, it’s time to ‘save the day’ - namely 10th December, when from 11.30am-2.30pm, we’ll be having our popular Christmas tree event in Portmoak Moss. You’ll be able to choose from trees of all shapes and sizes and, of course, there’ll be more home baking!

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