A group of local food enthusiasts in Wanaka organised a hugely successful inaugural event, The Great Autumn Apple Drive, held at Rippon Hall in Wanaka on Saturday. The goal was simple – host an all-inclusive community event utilizing the area’s apple surplus, with key people in the community teaching a hands-on approach to apple cider, cider vinegar, apple sauce, and apple chutney making.
The event included people of all ages — from 5 year olds to 85 year olds— coming from as far as Alexandra, Cromwell, and Queenstown for the event. Everyone went away with some pressed apple juice to ferment into cider and jars of apple chutney or apple sauce.
The event was held at the beautiful Rippon Hall, overlooking a stunning autumn day in Wanaka. Entry was a $2 gold coin donation with people bringing whatever surplus apples, pears, or green tomatoes on hand. No reservations were required so there were people joining the apple fun after wine tasting next door at the Rippon Tasting Room. Laura Wheeler from Rippon said: “The buzz from the event has been great and the products being made are delicious”. Some of the apples harvested by the organisers during the week came from a heritage orchard that Nick Mills’ great-grandfather planted over a hundred years ago. “It was a real honour to take the heritage apples from the Mills’ family, and make apple chutney and apple sauce from them. It was a great way to complete the circle of apple abundance for their family,” says Sarah Wadsworth, one of the organisers of the event.
The apple drive idea was inspired by The Great Waiheke Plum Drive, an annual event which is now into its fourth successful year on Waiheke Island. The success of The Great Autumn Apple Drive was not only apparent in the nearly 100 people who attended, but in the 1,200kg of local apples people brought to turn into the delicious preserves and cider. “We really had no idea how many people were going to attend so when people were lining up to the kitchen at 10am sharp, and we saw how full their boots were with apples, we were beyond thrilled”, says Sophie Ward, another of the organisers. There was over 300 litres of apple cider pressed, at least 225 jars of apple sauce and chutney made, and all of the organic waste from the day will go to compost or to feed some very lucky pigs.
Ella Lawton and Petrina Duncan, the remaining members of the local organising group, were thrilled with how successful it turned out and have taken notes on how to improve upon the event next year. All of the organisers would like to give a huge Thank You to everyone who attended, be it chopping fruit, stirring the pots, mulching the apples, contributing fruit…it was a huge success for all involved. Also a big thank you to Joel Salatin for donating the funds raised from his recent talk, which helped launch this great event. Suggestions for the next seasonal event, and feedback for this event, are welcome and can be made to the Local Food Wanaka Facebook Page.
Photo below by Zeph Wadsworth, taken at Rippon Hall, overlooking gorgeous Lake Wanaka and Rippon Vineyard, featuring Maggie and Gavin during the Apple Drive day.