British fruit firms this weekend called for children to be encouraged to grow and eat their own fruit. As they joined hundreds more schools backing The Independent on Sunday's schools gardening campaign, they expressed concern that the majority of youngsters do not eat enough fresh fruit.
The plea is one of the reasons the IoS is giving away free copies of a special DVD showing children how they can grow their own apples and pears, soft fruit, cane fruit and exotics.
A fruit industry spokesman, Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples & Pears Ltd, said: "We absolutely back this campaign. We are very concerned about a disconnection between so many in the population and horticulture and agriculture. This is a relatively new phenomenon as a result of migration from the countryside to the city. We are really concerned with people understanding where food comes from, and exactly how they choose between good and bad food. Encouraging children to grow something is something we would very much support."
Hugh Robertson MP, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary British Fruit Industry Group, said: "If we can get children interested by growing their own fruit trees, then that's fantastic, as they're more likely to eat the fruit and develop a taste for it."
Other organisations, including the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, back the campaign. They point out that it was a young girl who established one of the country's most popular varieties of apple – the Bramley – exactly 200 years ago. In 1809, Mary Anne Brailsford scattered a few apple pips in the garden at her home in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
Thirty years later a butcher called Matthew Bramley bought the cottage and garden, now home to a well-developed apple tree. In 1856, a nursery man, Henry Merryweather, asked if he could take cuttings and sell the apple. Mr Bramley agreed, but insisted the apple should bear his name. This formed the beginning of what is now a £50m industry.
Yet other fruit trees have suffered. In the past 50 years, 90 per cent of cherry orchards have disappeared and we now import around 95 per cent of the cherries we eat. Henrietta Green of foodloversbritain.com now runs a campaign called CherryAid to save the British cherry.
Some 832 schools – around 170,000 pupils – have now signed up to our campaign, run in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society.
How To Grow Fruit discusses the complexities and challenges of fruit growing and how, in spite of its many difficulties, the field is increasing in popularity among gardeners today. A range of fruit types are explored, including top fruit, soft fruit, cane fruit and exotic edibles – everything you need to know to produce your own fruit.
In addition to your free DVD, you can also save 50 per cent on this set of four DVDs to help get to grips with your garden. The set of four includes: How To Garden Organically, How To Encourage Wildlife and How To Grow Vegetables in addition to How To Grow Fruit.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies