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Heritage fruit variety exhibition and a tasting session - organizing curriculum

The main aims of a fruit exhibition could be to show the public the diversity of heritage fruit cultivars, to teach on the importance of preserving heritage varieties, old biodiversity-rich orchards and nature protection in general.

Organising a heritage fruit variety exhibition and a tasting session

Old fruit varieties are often underappreciated, but old orchards containing heritage

varieties are still abundant in the Baltic countries. Public knowledge about old varieties is

limited, but the interest is great. People would like to see, taste and learn about the old and

rare varieties. In fact, many grow some in their own orchards, but are not able to precisely

identify them. Identifying old varieties could help the preservation of the biodiversity-rich

old orchards, rare varieties and strikingly magnificent veteran fruit trees.

The main aims of a fruit exhibition could be to show the public the diversity of heritage fruit

cultivars, to teach on the importance of preserving heritage varieties, old biodiversity-rich

orchards and nature protection in general. Other aims could be introducing to local history,

local cuisine and uses of fruit cultivars or purely entertainment reasons. For the fruit

exhibition, it is worthwile to invite expert lecturers to give a presentation on heritage fruit

varieties, their history, traditional orchards, traditional cuisine, etc., so that visitors get more

context about the historic fruit.

This kind of event could also be a part of a larger event, e.g. traditional cooking or crafts

workshop, harvest fair, traditional celebrations, community gathering events.

Who could organise a fruit exhibition?

- Open-air, ethnographical and regional museums.

- Regional parks.

- Botanical gardens.

- Old manors that have old orchards in the vicinity.

- Town or village communities can arrange a fruit exhibition e.g. as a part of their autumn

harvest fairs.

Where to make the exhibition?

As fruit exhibitions are usually planned in the autumn, when the weather can be

unpredictable, it is best to plan it indoors. A fruit exhibition can be organised in any hall

with sufficient space for the public. One important requirement would be to have enough

tables (or other convenient surfaces) to display the fruit varieties.

How to obtain fruit cultivars?

Plan in advance to gather fresh fruit for the exhibition. If the availability of cultivars is

limited, the organisers can source the fruit samples from local community members, who

maintain their old orchards and have some knowledge about the fruit. Typically, a diversity

of fruit cultivars could be found in manor orchards, thus their owners could be contacted.

Other institutions, such as museums that maintain orchards or scientists who work on

breeding fruit varieties or even fruit-tree nurseries can be contacted asking for fruit


The fruit should be mature enough and should already have the characteristics of the

variety. Immature fruit usually have not got sufficient colour or patterns, they may seem not

typical for the variety. If the storage time of some varieties is poor, they can be kept in a

refrigerator until the time of exhibition. Early bearing varieties can also be ‘saved’ this way

for the exhibition by picking the fruit just before they ripen and storing in the refrigerator.

Fruit exhibitions and public tasting sessions of old apple, pear, plum and other stone-fruit

varieties could be organised from early to mid autumn, when the highest number of fruit

varieties are ripe and available. For apples an exhibition could be made in the middle of

the autumn when the late bearing varieties have already gained their characteristics and

some fruit of early autumn varieties can still be found or preserved until the exhibition. In

Lithuania this time could be at the beginning of October, depending on the year. For other

fruit, such as pears and plums, the time of highest availability of ripe local cultivars will be

in the early autumn.

Gathering information about the varieties/ cultivars to be displayed

When collecting the fruit it is a good practice to mark/ label each cultivar for proper

identification, as confusion may arise very easily, when there are dozens of different fruit.

If the fruit are sourced from the members of the community, it is important to ask them for

knowledge about the fruit and other information:

-the name(s) of the variety (most likely it will be a made-up name or name that originated


-official name of the variety, if known;

-how old is the tree and where did they get it from?;

-how is it used in their family? Any special uses? (e.g. how long can it be stored during


-any memories or stories related to the particular variety.

If the official name of the variety is known, it is then easy to find much more information

about the cultivars in the pomological books or on the internet.

Unknown cultivars

It is likely that some locally sourced cultivars will not be easy to identify. This is very

common, as quite a high number of cultivars originating from foreign countries can be

found in the old orchards. Some of these cultivars can be very rare, some trees can even

be unique seedling trees. In this case, a fruit variety expert can be hired to help identify the

unknowns. Otherwise, during the public exhibitions visitors may be asked to help identify

the unknown variety or to provide other valuable information about it.

Presenting the exhibition

In order to avoid mixing up and confusion, the fruit cultivars should be put separately in

plates or bowls preferably made from natural materials (e.g. wooden bowls, ceramic

plates, weaved baskets, plant fibre plates, etc.).

It is crucial to label the fruit cultivars with name tags or information cards that would be

even better. Preferably the varieties should be tagged with the official names, and local

names can be listed below. Some facts about the variety, its origin, properties and uses

can also be added to the card.

Tasting session

At the end of exhibition, when all of the visitors have seen what is on display, the tasting

session can commence. It is recommended to provide several knifes with which visitors

can slice and taste the fruit. The tasting can also take place during the exhibition if the

organisers have sufficient quantity of the apples.

Also, the „competition“ of the best tasting apple or other fruit can take place. Visitors can

be given sheets to assign a score of taste impression to each apple. Later the scores can

be summed up and the favourite variety announced (in the photo below: Beržininkų

ananasinis apple, which is considered by many, to be best tasting local cultivar in


The publication was prepared by Gamtinės žemdirbystės institutas, 2022.

Photo credit: Gamtinės žemdirbystės institutas

This work is licensed under a Creative commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Power in Numbers




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