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Granny Smith Apples & the Magic of Compost

By Larraine Roulston:

The origin of brand names often can be intriguing. For instance, ifyou thought that “Granny Smith Apple” was a name fabricatedfor marketing purposes, youd be interested to learn that itwas named after a real Granny Smith.

Born into a farming family in England in 1799, Maria Ann Sherwoodbecame interested in agriculture. At age 19 she married Thomas Smithwho also labored on farms. Together, they raised a family in Beckley.In 1838, those with agricultural backgrounds were recruited toAustralia to work the farms and teach their skills. As Maria Annparticularly enjoyed raising seedling apple trees, the coupleeventually purchased their own land to start an apple orchard. Itwasnt until 1868, when Maria Ann was 69 years old, that shediscovered a new seedling bearing light-green-colored apples where shehad tossed French crab apple peelings.

With May being the month that celebrates the beginning of thegardening season, her story is an amazing testimony to the magic ofcompost. When Maria Ann “Granny”Smith cooked French crab apples,she would discard the cores into her compost pile behind herfarmhouse. It was there that she discovered a seedling unlikeany other. Smith, delighted with this new green apple’s tartflavor and versatility, decided to cultivate the tree herself.

EdwardGallard, a local orchardist,also developed the trees from cuttingstaken from the original tree and continued growing Granny Smith applesuntil his death in 1914.Granny Smith apples became popular in Australia and New Zealand, andwere displayed in 1891 at agricultural and horticultural shows where“Smiths seedling”won the prize for the best cooking apple. Afterbeing added to the list of fruits suitable for export, they wereintroduced to Great Britain in 1935 and the U.S. in 1972. Sadly, GrannySmith passed away in 1870 before seeing her apples gain commercialrecognition.

Granny Smith Apple Facts:

Granny Smith Apples contain a higher concentration of antioxidantsthan most other apple brands. They also have 20% of the Vitamin Crecommended daily and high levels of Vitamin A.

Due to a high acidity level, when cooked, Granny Smith apples holdtheir shape better than most other apples. Once cut open, they alsotend to retain their white color longer.

Under ideal conditions and care, Granny Smith apple trees can live forover fifty years. They are also one of the fastest growing appletrees.

The ideal storage condition for Granny Smith apples is acold refrigerator.

Edna Spurway, Granny Smiths great-granddaughter, survived tobe 101. She attributed her health to eating lots of apples.

Every year in Ryde, New South Wales, a Granny Smith Festivalcelebrates Maria Ann Smiths life and legacy.

With a compost heap in your backyard, you too have the potential towatch seedlings sprout. Compost feeds the beneficial soil microbes,which decompose organic materials such as apple peelings and dryleaves. Rich soil will help your plants thrive. Perhaps one day aseedling of yours will become the core of a successful and worldwideapeeling”new food.

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 Larraine writes illustrated childrens books on composting and pollinating. To view, visit, www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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