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
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.
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.
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