Many of those who visit Barry Mill are surprised to discover its rather special apple orchard.
All the varieties grown are ‘heritage’, or rare native types. Once, Lowland Scotland was the centre of a thriving fruit industry. One of Scotland’s premier apple growing areas, dating back 800 years, was the Carse of Gowrie between Perth and Dundee on the north bank of the River Tay. A recent Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust survey found that, of 50 recorded orchards, there are now only 17 left and just nine with commercial potential.
More than 70 per cent of apples on sale in British shops are now grown abroad and shipped in. Indigenous varieties have largely been allowed to fade away, although some native Scots apples (often unidentified) still remain in private gardens. Not only are these apples wonderful to eat and cook with, orchards are beneficial to the environment and to wildlife, such as insects and birds.
Here are some of the varieties grown at Barry:
The James Grieve: A dessert apple with yellow fruit, speckled and striped with orange. The Bloody Ploughman: Cultivated in the Carse of Gowrie around 1880. Deep, dark, blood red eating apple with flesh with pink stains. Named after a ploughman who was caught stealing the apples and shot by a gamekeeper.
The White Melrose: Raised at Melrose Abbey before 1831. A large, ribbed, green fruit popular in Tweedside orchards in the 19th century.
The mill will hold its first ever Apple Day, a family celebration of this humble fruit, on September 17, 12-5pm. Bring your own apple-based picnic, or pick your own apples! There will be community stalls and competitions for children. Only £4 per family. See Barry Mill’s Facebook page for more details.