Friday, September 10, 2010

Harry and Debbie Burton and their travelling Apple Show

In 2010 Salt Spring Island's Harry Burton gave an enthusiastic presentation on apples to an equally enthusiastic Pender Island audience. After a preamble on the importance of good food for good health, and looking over (and tasting) the display of apples, we listened to Harry give the Cole's notes on grafting and selecting different apple varieties. I especially enjoyed the slide show which gave us a glimpse into Harry and Debbie's world and their joy and passion for their piece of heaven.

Each year Harry and Debbie work with other orchardists and volunteers to put on  an Apple Festival.  Following is information on this year's festival, provided by Harry:
13th Annual
Salt Spring Island Apple Festival
Sunday, Oct 2, 2011
from 9 AM to 5
Suggested Starting Point: Fulford Hall
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Growing over 350 varieties of apples organically
A chance to visit Apple Heaven while still on earth!

2011 Theme:
A trio of Apple Luscious Organic Orchard Taste Testers
Children tend to be very honest when tasting, and so always provide valuable information. These young girls like sweet apples, their favourite in 2009 being TSUGARU.

Thoughts from Harry
To me, the ultimate experience for a child, is to be able to reach up and pick an apple from a tree and then EAT IT. Mind you, I will expand that to include picking any fruit that is growing in your yard. It does not get any better.
So at the Apple Festival, we encourage children to get involved. All kids under 12 attend for FREE. The kids also get an Apple Festival badge to wear on their shirt. We want whole families to come and we also try to get children involved (with their family) in volunteer positions so they really get connected in a much deeper sense.
Some of our special young friends, state that Apple Festival is their favourite day of the year. We also have some Saturday night apple collection youth volunteers, that have been with us for 10 years.
      I know from personal experience, how important it is for children to connect with the land. I was lucky to grow up in Cobalt, Ontario, (Zone 3) which is small town Northern Ontario, where it was too cold to grow a good apple tree. It is a real paradox, since that area of Northern Ontario is further south than Salt Spring (Zone 8). There were some apple trees there that must have been crab based, and because of scarcity, those trees were valued. All the kids knew who had good apple trees, and so raiding parties happened. One Cobalter, an electronics expert, put a microphone and a loudspeaker in his apple tree, so when he heard the kids in the tree, he could yell at them. That scared the kids away. Another old lady, had a “pepper gun”, which she used to scare away kids raiding her trees. When I think of it, I know, it was ridiculous, because the apples were not very big and not very good, but it was all we had. This is a 1956 photo of sister Wendy and I in an apple tree in our back yard in Cobalt. My father instilled the love of nature and growing into us, via the back yard garden and our 3 apple trees. Thanks Dad. Unfortunately he never lived long enough to see Apple Luscious Organic Orchard. I think he would have loved it.
So in 2010, we are dedicating the Apple Festival to children. The future farmers of the world.

Photos by -Jan Mangan, May Henderson, Derek Lundy.


  1. Nice to see Harry and Debbie on your blog. (And a mighty fine blog it is too!) I just discovered it, and I can't wait to read more. What a valuable perspective you provide on the subject of island farming -- thank you!

  2. Hi Harry - It's too funny... I looked at the picture and said to my husband ..that's Harry, Wendy and their Dad....he (laughing) said why not read the comments and low and behold ... it was true. Reading about the old lady and her apple tree...was karma... Hans and I were just talking about her apples and I remembered them being "huge" from my little kids perspective and one day...I'll tell you the story behind kids raiding her apple tree.

    It is so inspiring to know that the person you have become is with the same values that your Dad instilled in you about the environment and eating from our land. Mom and Dad's garden was huge and much of it they gave away. I look forward to one day vising you during Apple Festival Season and tasting organic apples.