Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Potted History of the Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree Network

By Anitra Nelson, with updates from Anne Elliott and Kat Szuminska

It started with The Fruit and Nut Tree Register The Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree Network was started several years ago by Anne Elliott, as the Slow Food Fruit Tree Register. This spread to become a National Slow Food initiative. The register was designed to identify, record and preserve old varieties of fruit trees as well as the whole culture of fruit tree growing and harvesting.

Growing, harvesting, storing and cooking In 2009, Anitra Nelson, with support from Anne Elliott and others, including members of Permaculture Blue Mountains Lizzie Connor and Sue Girard, in the form of a wider network connected by an email list and blog. They designed new activities to support local residents to share knowledge and skills in growing, harvesting and storing fruit and nuts in their gardens, in community gardens and other appropriate public land. We have had a free or as-cheap-as-we-can approach to these activities, which children can often participate in.

Workshops and field trips, online and off Over the last few years we have organised a range of workshops and field trips. Our newsletter now goes out to 300 email addresses, some including groups of people and many couples. We also have had inserts in the Blue Mountains Gazette alerting people to our existence and promote single events in the Gazette the week before they happen.

Working for food Activities for 2011 began on 2 January with berry picking at Cloud Farm Community Collective (Mt Tomah). This collective was formed to preserve a massive one-acre netted food forest, which included dozens of different kinds of fruit and nut plants. The collective was ‘working for food not money’ and one of its aims was to share skills and knowledge within our local community. By year’s end it had disbanded, but was a useful experiment and provided an ongoing venue for our network’s activities while it lasted. Besides events organized by our network we promoted opportunities such as for individuals and small groups to pick figs there and to collect manure as a joint exercise. Tours with benefits of hand dug berry canes and a variety of other propagules from our very generous hosts Judith and John Chorley.

Winter Pruning
Twice in July the network pruned apple trees in McRae’s Paddock (public land). In 2012 Brian, Wayne and Sue ran a pruning workshop at the community gardens, over 50 people took part, and in 2013 Barry Jarrott ran a pruning workshop in Katoomba (pictured above). Anne also presented regular, seasonal, workshops on preserving fruit using Fowlers Vacola equipment. There is a healthy resurgence of interest in canning & bottling and these workshops are popular. Also new in 2013 Maggie facilitated a workshop with eager participants sharing their experiences on the art of dehydrating foods.

Partnering with TAFE A partnership with TAFE since 2011 has resulted in a variety of successful outreach courses. While all result in a No 9070 Statement of Attainment in Access to Work & Training, the contents have extended across a range of fruit and nut growing and harvesting activities, including: establishing fruit and nut trees in the Blue Mountains, maintaining trees and food forests, pests and diseases, nutrition, harvesting, storing, preserving and sharing fruit and nuts. They've been held at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens at least twice a year and range from 10 - 18 hours training altogether. Local permaculture expert Susan Girard runs the TAFE courses.

Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Trees Beginning 2012, each March/April Anne Elliott leads a group visit to Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm in Mt Irvine to collect chestnuts in season and enjoy a picnic lunch. The farm provides buckets/bags for nuts. We look forward to this annual treat. In 2014 a Sid from Lushious created a fantastic chestnut pate which was eagerly snapped up in the first couple of hours going on sale at Leura's inaugural Harvest Festival.

In 2012, Anitra travelled overseas,  and then subsequently relocated to Victoria. That's when Anne Elliott and Kat Szuminska took over responsibility for organizing and promoting activities, updating this blog and sending out the newsletter. New activities included a series on Collective Sustainability in the co-working space 2780 in Katoomba. We invited local foodies and food writers to share their recipes and local food stories and histories.

Swapping and sharing Gathering chestnuts, sharing surplus citrus fruits and fig cuttings, pruning fruit trees at Varuna (the Writers’ House), Mt Tomah and Katoomba Organic Community Gardens, holding preserving workshops, promoting swaps and trade in local fruit and nuts through our food co-operative, the foragers' network on facebook, swap tables at local permaculture and transition town events, and even dedicated swap meets. Most recently Kris organised an open day of food forests in the mid mountains. 
These are all the kinds of activities organised and promoted through the Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree Network.

The Fruit and Nut Tree Network is Slow Food Blue Mountains initiative

Sign up to get all your fruit and nut news at the top of this page. 
Have we missed something?! Let us know. Please contribute your stories, just get in touch with Fruit
 and Nut Tree Network via edibleforests@gmail.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment


We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)