It was a fun-filled day in Slindon on Saturday for the eagerly-anticipated Apple Day, an annual festival of fruit, juice, orchards, crumbles and more.
As expected, the star of the show was the National Trust’s giant apple press, Bertha, which was brought out, dusted off, greased up and put to work for another year.
Also taking a starring role with its inaugural use was the trust’s newly-refurbished scratter, a machine made for crunching up apples before they head to the press.
The National Trust rangers had put the finishing touches to its new oak frame only days before the event and, testament to their woodworking skill, the scratter stood up to the strain of the bountiful supply of apples without any problems.
People of all ages were getting involved with making juice, from chopping and washing the apples to the vigorous task of scratting and the tough job of working the press, it was hands on at every turn.
Lead ranger Mark Wardle said: “We really enjoy sharing this experience with our local community. There is so much enthusiasm for what gets produced right on our doorsteps, in our gardens and orchards, that it’s great to see this juice being tasted in sight of the trees where the apples grew.”
Visitor Steve Fells described the juice as ‘tasting all the better after you can see the work that’s gone in to the whole process’.
“I’m looking forward to taking a bit home and trying out some cider making too,” he added.
Continuing the apple theme were apple-inspired competitions, from poetry and pies to drawings and fruit monsters.
Robin Van Creveld from Community Chef cooked up a storm with apple-based cookery demonstrations and apple identification experts Peter Collett and Paul Barnett were on hand to identify varieties brought in by visitors.
They also put on a huge display of more than 100 different varieties of apples of all shapes, colours and sizes.
South Downs Folk Singers provided music, singing songs of Sussex, and Fishbourne Mill Morris kept traditions alive with their dances.
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