learning and experience with the geopark

Festival PROMĚNY

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Saving regional varieties or the Apples of Memories

We have worked with the gardener to map out and describe a hundred apple trees in the geopark, silent witnesses to times long past in former villages.

Mapping fruit trees in the Ralsko Geopark

Why buy an apple tree?

  • Most of all, you will be saving the cultural heritage of our ancestors who used to live here before us. Besides their diversity and potential to diversify the gene pool, old varieties also have an important historical value.

  • You will also be getting an apple tree that bears fruit with a distinctive flavour and aroma, and often also a unique appearance. The modern varieties that are usually available in the shops are dull in comparison - bred to immediately appear beautiful with a firm and intact skin, yet are easy to store and are not damaged during transport; it is no wonder that they often lack the most important thing: a unique flavour.

  • Another considerable advantage of the varieties that are saved is that they are very hardy. The apple trees they are grafted from have survived in the Ralsko Geopark for some 80 years without any care, exposed to the whims of the weather, harsh conditions, diseases and pests, not to mention three armies.

Where did the apple trees in Ralsko come from?

The area in which the Ralsko geopark is situated was once a thriving landscape with many picturesque and self-sufficient villages scattered amongst the woods and fields. However, during the 20th century the historical character of the cultural landscape was greatly disrupted by the three armies that occupied it - the German army (1938-45), the Czechoslovak People's Army (1947-1968) and the Soviet army (1968-1991). As a result of this not only were most of the civilians (Czech and German) completely moved out of the area, but more than 20 villages also disappeared from the face of the earth. Former cottages, farms, homes, churches - these were all used by the troops for training purposes; all that was left was the bare landscape and new buildings built by the army. After the Soviet army had left, work started to clear the devastated parts of the landscape of munitions, chemicals and surplus buildings. Nature gradually started to take control of the area from the government and the last traces of the former villages disappeared. However, witnesses to those times gone by still remain in place - the old apple trees.

Fruit trees and apple trees especially used to be the pride and joy of every homesteader. Hay was dried, cattle grazed and even crops were grown under the spreading trees. Apple trees provided valuable shade in summer and a home to birds, butterflies, bees and other insects all year round. The old cottagers knew exactly which apples to eat straight away and which should be wrapped in leaves and placed in the cellar over the winter. Incidentally, people didn't use to let apples ripen and ate them soft, as they often had bad teeth. In the past apples also used to play a much greater role in the kitchen, and were used in a far greater variety of ways than they are today. Our ancestors used to dry apples, make juice from them or ferment them, as well as using them for cooking and baking. And each variety was best suited to something different.

Discover the magic of old apple tree varieties and save a piece of our cultural heritage.