Samples of crisp, heritage apples, live entertainment, and talks on how to care for the trees are expected to draw hundreds of people to this Saturday's Heritage Apple Day in Derby Reach Regional Park.
A lot has changed since the first Apple Day was held in 2006, said Sharon Meneely, one of the organizers of the annual Langley celebration.
The first day mostly consisted of a group of volunteers from the Derby Reach Park Association, and park staff, clearing Scotch broom out of a field in Derby, and working to uncover some of the community's oldest apple trees.
"All the apple trees were completely covered in brambles," Meneely said.
There was, however, an apple tasting, a tradition that has lasted through every single celebration.
The goal of that first celebration was to get people to realize that there was a living agricultural heritage in Langley, and that it needed to be saved.
The Derby Reach Regional Park includes the site of the original Fort Langley trading post, and later was the site of several early pioneer homesteads. Most of those farms had apple orchards, or at least a few trees for the use of the families.
A handful of the trees survived into the modern era, but many of them were on their last legs.
Now Derby Reach hosts a new small orchard created from grafted cuttings taken from the heritage trees, and other trees have been saved from being covered in blackberry vines.
As the landscape of heritage apples around Langley has changed, the festival has changed every year as well.
One of the big new additions this year will be apple pruning demonstrations with arbourists Bill Wilde and Richard Hallman.
A lot of people have an apple tree or two in their backyards, often the remnants of orchards that existed when most of the community was farmland.
Over the years, the trees can become overgrown and unwieldy.
Wilde will show people how to deal with young trees, and those that have been let go.
Wilde said he'll introduce people to the tools they'll need, including a helmet.
He advises people to have specific ideas about what they want to do to the tree, and to get some basic information about tree physiology.
"Understand dose and timing," he said.
A dose is how much you prune, timing is when, he said.
Pruning too much can be very unhealthy for the tree.
"It's often disfiguring for the tree, it ends up looking awful," Wilde said.
Worse, you'll probably wind up doing it again in a year when it grows back.
Take a maximum of 20 per cent of a tree at any one time, Wilde said.
There are a number of times in a year when you can safely prune an apple tree, but it will have different effects at different times, Wilde said.
The weather can also be a big influence on when you should prune.
Safety remains the primary concern, he said.
"Pruning saws are sharp," he noted. Wear gloves.
Lack of safety can lead to a tragic demise, in the worst case scenario, and that's something that will be considered in Ghosts Under the Apple Trees, a presentation by Michelle Duncan of Metro Vancouver Parks and Amn Johal of Fort Langley National Historic Site.
They'll tell true tales of Langley pioneers, including one of a fatal encounter involving an apple tree.
Heritage Apple Day is Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park's heritage area on Allard Crescent, north of 96th Avenue and four kilometres west of Fort Langley. There will also be live music, plein air painting and art, children's games, pioneer chores, and crafts. Allard Crescent has been closed in recent days for filming but will be open Saturday.
@ Copyright 2013