Welcome to the Heritage Fruits Society

About the Heritage Fruits Society

The Heritage Fruits Society is a not-for-profit group based in Melbourne, Australia. Our aim is to conserve heritage fruit varieties (also known as 'heirloom fruits') on private and public land.

We enable and encourage society members to research this wide range of varieties and to inform the public on the benefits of heritage fruits for health, sustainability and biodiversity.
You can read about our history here.
You can find our list of heritage apples here.

Working Bees

 The Heritage Fruits Society will hold Working Bees at Petty's Orchard between 9am and 12 noon on -

* the first Sunday of every month 

* some Wednesdays - see list on right

President's Report – 2015 - 16

The 2015 – 16 financial year has been a very successful one for the Society. Although we finished the year with a deficit of just over $2700, we purchased a ride-on mower and trailer, for over $3300. Without the large capital expenditure, and a grant of $1000 from Esso, for which we thank them, and Jill Stevens for organising, we would have had a deficit of under $500, which is very satisfactory considering the work we are doing. Profits from our sales and tastings go back into the orchard and pay for collecting and maintaining the varieties we have.

Of course, we only look at the finances in this way, to ensure that we have the money to pay for our operations. Of paramount importance is conserving varieties and encouraging people to plant varieties after making an informed choice. To this end we ran a series of apple tastings in autumn, and we see the benefits of this when people come to our grafting days and ask for varieties they have tasted earlier in the year. We also aim to give our best possible advice on varieties to grow, and I wish to acknowledge the volunteers who have information about varieties that they are happy to share with others. Building our knowledge base is an important part of our work.

We approached CERES nursery with the idea of selling our trees, and they agreed. We supplied an initial order of 50, with 8 more just recently. This is a direction we are interested in pursuing, as our trees are then sold all year round. We plan to approach a small number of other nurseries to become involved. The requirements of CERES made us improve our presentation, and it also provided the impetus to run a dedicated grafting day, just grafting for our own purposes, and we have continued that into this year.

We have worked with Werribee Park Heritage Orchard, where we attended grafting and budding days, swapped scion, and run the first of what we hope is many heritage fruit tastings. We have supplied scion to The Briars in Mount Martha to assist in establishing a heritage orchard, and again ran a grafting day.

Our plans for the current financial year include grafting and conserving the plums, quinces, apricots and medlars we have recently collected from 2 private collectors, to hopefully begin a stone-fruit collection here at Petty's and expand the one at The Briars. We have given the excess scion to Werribee so they can expand their collection.

Again I would like to thank all our volunteers for giving up their time to run our operations. Hopefully it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and we look forward to the new year (already started) when we can expand and deepen our work.
Thank you for coming to our meeting, and for being part of our organisation.

President's Report – 2014 - 15

2014-15 was a successful year in the development of the Society. It saw progress in a number of initiatives.

We again ran grafting days at Pettys, CERES and The Briars, and joined in the Werribee Park Orchard day. A particular success at these was the sale of one-year old trees, so we are increasing our supply, and targeting varieties we believe are in demand by home growers. We also limited the number of varieties of cut scion to about 70, on the understanding that we would cut scion, if available, from Pettys trees on the Pettys grafting day.

Our activities at Pettys increased, with a number of trees growing to one year old in our nursery, and hence being available for sale, as well as growing up the 35 or so mostly new varieties you see here in the new row 10 North, which were planted recently.

We have been experimenting with ways of growing our own rootstock, and have some rootstock planted which we hope will supplement our purchases next year, with a long-term aim of being self-sufficient for apple and stone fruit rootstock in the future.

Tasting events were reduced this year due to the low harvest of apples, and the codlin moth problems. The lessees of Pettys, Yarra Organics, are planning a new regime this summer, spraying vinegar amongst other things to reduce the coldlin moth problem. We are hoping to expand our tastings next autumn to include weekdays and tastings at other sites, e.g. Werribee. If you would like to volunteer at one of these, you can join in the fun and taste the apples for free.

We again sold apples at an organic foodstore, but only in reduced quantity.

We have reduced the bird problem by netting across 2 rows, so that we can walk between the rows under the netting, but can seal the outsides to very effectively keep the birds out. This has led to greatly reduced damage from birds.

We continue to have working bees on the first Sunday of each month, and have added working bees on the first and sometimes other Wednesdays, particularly when there are apples to pick. See our website or one of our committee for details.

Sadly, our founding Secretary, Ian Batchelor, had to resign for personal reasons. Ian helped build the Society by generously giving his expertise in management and horticulture. He is sorely missed. We have a new Secretary temporarily, but are on the lookout for a new Secretary. If someone takes on the job, they will have every assistance from the Committee.

Looking to the future, we have bought a ride-on mower, which will assist us in controlling the grass, and hopefully decrease the black spot problem. We have an arrangement with CERES in Brunswick to sell our trees and have an extra 125 grafted and ready to go. Our thanks to those members who have agreed to nurture them for us. We were given one of each of the 7 apple rootstocks grown by Eversen Nurseries, which closed recently, and have planted them in Row 10, as we believe these are apple trees in their own right, perhaps not heritage, but a valuable resource, and should be grown along with other varieties.

Damage to trees by kangaroos has become a problem recently, and Yarra Organics believe that they can reduce the number of roos by building a fence across the western end of their property, as the roos come from Westerfolds Park direction. We will continue to monitor the situation, and have put wire around some trees to limit the damage.

I would like to thank members for joining our Society, and for coming today. I hope you are happy with our aims and plans, and look forward to working with you in the coming year.

Petty's Orchard

Petty's Orchard in Templestowe, Victoria, Australia, is one of Melbourne’s oldest commercial orchards, and it holds the largest collection of heritage/heirloom apple varieties on mainland Australia, with more than two hundred varieties of old and rare apples. The maintenance of the apple tree collection is done by Heritage Fruits Society volunteers. Anyone can come and help. Find out more!

Please let us know if anything on the website is not working by sending us an email HFS

Visit Yarra Organics @ Petty's Orchard
Organic Shop and Cafe
open Fridays and Saturdays 9am - 5:30pm
and Sundays 10am - 4:30pm.

President's Report -
the summer of 2015

2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Heritage Fruits Society. We will be running tasting and grafting days as we have in the past. We also hope to run tastings at Werribee Park Heritage Orchard and The Briars Historic Homestead in Mt Eliza. We will participate in the grafting day at Werribee Park, as well as Werribee Park’s bud-grafting day in mid-February.

The Briars is very keen to expand their small collection of apples and plums, and this could be a major repository of fruit varieties in the future. The land seems very securely held by Mornington Shire Council. We supplied almost 100 varieties of apple scion to them last winter, and although not all have survived, they will have a lot of planting to do next winter.

Our nursery bed at Petty’s Orchard is going reasonably well, but holes have developed in the chicken wire fence, so that will need some extra work. There are about 50 varieties growing there that are not currently in the orchard, and we are always looking to expand our collection.

We sold apples to an organic fruit shop last autumn, and they are keen to sell more for us this year. The publicity from such an arrangement is enormous, and we have a sign on their shelf indicating the varieties for sale.

CERES nursery is interested in selling our one-year old trees on consignment, but we need to guarantee that we can regularly supply trees of a good standard.

Our attempts at growing rootstock, have not been very successful, so that is something we need to work on – so we can have our own supply. We are considering buying a ride-on mower to assist with grass-cutting, and with moving apples around via a small trailer on the back. We are also considering permanent netting over the orchard, to reduce birdstrike and remove the onerous task of putting the nets on and taking them off each year.

There are other projects too, for example, improving labelling of trees. Naturally we can’t do all this without volunteers, so we thank all those who have worked hard to get us to where we are now, and ask that you continue to volunteer at working bees, on the committee, and lots of other behind-the-scenes tasks needed to keep the society running. Contact us about things you might help us with.

Upcoming events

Wed, December 19, 2018 9:00 AM • Pettys Orchard
Wed, January 02, 2019 9:00 AM • Pettys Orchard
Sun, January 06, 2019 9:00 AM • Pettys Orchard
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