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Werribee’s Grafting Day Continues to Grow

Tuesday 22 July, 2014

Werribee Park's Grafting Day has established itself as a major calendar event for the horticultural sector with over 1400 visitors coming along to the annual event last Sunday.

Most people were there to watch and learn the techniques for success by observing some grafting gurus at work. Expert grafter Craig Castree was surrounded by a crowd of fascinated observers as he demonstrated the art of the perfect graft. As he worked he explained how the older tastier varieties of fruit like apples were disappearing due to the demand by supermarkets for newer hybrid varieties that store well. His message to the crowd was that growing your own both preserves heritage varieties and gives the tastiest fruit.

The Werribee Heritage Orchard group provided root stocks and hundreds of different fruit cuttings for made to order graftings on the day, or to be taken home by fruit growers.  It describes the park’s heritage orchard as a bank for old fruit varieties and are planning to have tasting days in the future to let people discover just how unique and better tasting heritage fruit varieties are.

Apart from the grafting sessions there were also tours of the heritage orchard, apple juice tasting, composting demonstrations and walks and talks in the veggie patch, which has been resurrected to its former productive glory. The restoration is part of the Working Beyond the Boundaries program, and has been done by a group of Karen volunteers of Burmese origin. It now produces a wide range of herbs and vegetables, some of which are used by the restaurant at the Mansion.

Senior Horticultural Ranger at the park, Adam Smith, says they were delighted with the success of the day. "It was wonderful to see so many different kinds of people wanting to know more about producing their own fruit and learning about the value of keeping heritage varieties going. This event is a special kind of celebration for this different aspect of the park’s heritage."

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