Video: Fruitful day at the office apple-picking for Stratford’s Olympic orchard

An apple tasting session for the new orchard at the Olympic Park

An apple tasting session for the new orchard at the Olympic Park - Credit: Archant

“Too fluffy”, “not juicy enough”, “nice and crisp” were some of the comments which emerged from the judging panel as we sunk our teeth into nine varieties of apple.

Former Paralympian Danny Crates tries some apples for the new orchard at the Olympic Park

Former Paralympian Danny Crates tries some apples for the new orchard at the Olympic Park - Credit: Archant

“Number three is the winner” we concluded after a fruitful hour of careful analysis from core to skin.

Taking inspiration from the use of apples in the 2012 Opening Ceremony, an orchard will open in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in spring - and I was invited onto the “apple-tasting panel” to help select the breed to be grown.

Also on the panel was former Paralympian, Danny Crates, 41, who described the winner as “crisp and tangy with a juicy texture.”

In celebration of the Paralympic Games a new area of the Park, known as Mandeville Place, is being created for the orchard and a national schools competition has been launched to find a name for a brand new variety of the fruit.

A range of apples are displayed to be selected as the new apple for the orchard at the Olympic Park

A range of apples are displayed to be selected as the new apple for the orchard at the Olympic Park - Credit: Archant


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The past few months have been spent waiting for 50 potential apples to reach their perfect ripeness, and from these, nine were selected and scoffed by us.

“It’s great to be part of the legacy of 2012,” Danny said.

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“This is probably one of the first Olympic Parks that has actually delivered on its legacy promises and it’s still improving all the time.

“It’s not just about planting an orchard but also engaging our children and young people in schools and getting them involved, just like we did in the run-up to the Paralympics.”

The apples will be grown in the Olympic Park’s community orchard, which will house up to 70 trees.

An apple tree will also be planted in the home town of each Paralympic gold athlete.

“Today has been good fun. I’ve never done anything like it and it’s nice to be part of it,” Danny added.

“And if my favourite becomes the chosen apple it’s nice to know it will be grown in Mandeville Place.”

Also on the panel were local young and disabled people, representatives from the nursery which grew the apples and Amber Alferoff from the Urban Orchard Project.

The project equips people with the skills needed to plant fruit in cities and has been involved in the Mandeville plan since its conception six months ago.

Amber explained the orchard will bear fruit immediately but that fruit will be removed at first so the tree can put all its strength into growing.

She added: “The idea behind the orchard is that people can pick the fruit and eat it.

“We’re transforming that space so people feel ownership of it, it’s important to do that with the community because if they feel they are their trees then they’ll care for them.

“We can’t wait to find out what name the new apple will have and to see it flourish at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.”

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