Portobello Apple

2013 was a bump­er year for apples in Scotland and a great time to launch Portobello Apple.
Inspired by the Slow Food Movement and a love of apple juice mak­ing we liked the idea of get­ting more loc­al people to drink more loc­ally pro­duced juice. 
And what a per­fect place to do it! It is not always appre­ci­ated what a per­fect cli­mate East Scotland offers to Malus domest­ica, our well known apple tree. The win­ters are cold enough and the sum­mers dry and sunny enough for most apple vari­et­ies. Even more tender English types will flour­ish in a walled garden; on our travels around Portobello gar­dens we found a 180 year old Tom Putt which some books say can­not grow in Scotland. John Butterworth, the well known organ­ic apple tree grow­er, has per­son­ally coun­ted 65 vari­et­ies grow­ing hap­pily in Scotland. Indeed in Edinburgh alone he cal­cu­lates that hid­ing quietly in all its gar­dens there is a 140 hec­tare orch­ard equi­val­ent to 140,000 apple trees!
Portobello Apple is a loc­al net­work effect­ively link­ing sup­pli­er with con­sumer. We iden­ti­fied 12 gar­dens with unwanted apples and pears, picked them all by hand (no wind­falls for us), washed them back at our walled garden in Portobello, crushed them in an elec­tric mill, pressed them by hand, filtered and stored the juice overnight, then bottled and pas­teur­ised it. With a bit of blend­ing we finally pro­duced 250 bottles con­tain­ing 7 dif­fer­ent blends of juice from around 25 apple vari­et­ies. Hard work but still a labour of love!
Local artists designed funky labels and a loc­al print­er prin­ted them at cost price. 
Portobello Apple is non profit-mak­ing. Some of our lovely look­ing juice was giv­en to our sup­pli­ers as pay­ment in kind and some to friends who sup­por­ted the pro­ject. However most we were able to sell for char­ity at out­door stalls with pro­ceeds going to Portobello Community Orchard and PEDAL. We wanted to donate more but by December we had run out! 
For us this was a suc­cess­ful start to a long held dream. What moved us most was the evid­ent reser­voir of good will in to which we tapped.
We intend to grow. Even in poor har­vests it is clear that there are plen­ti­ful sup­plies of the raw mater­i­al. Our chal­lenge is to find the apples and orch­ards in Portobello. The juice was a great advert­ise­ment. If any­one has spare apples or pears (or there is a loc­al char­ity look­ing for dona­tions) we encour­age them to con­tact us at portobelloapple@mcculloch.myzen.co.uk.

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