I grew up with such delights as gravenstien and snow apples. Memories of their flavour and texture embedded themselves into my taste buds, to the point that when I finally purchased a site big enough to have my own orchard, planting heritage fruit trees was on my list of early work to be carried out.
There are other reasons why heritage fruit trees are important.
Supermarkets stock stuff that has a long shelf life and don't damage easily through transport and handling, as well as having a uniform look. This means they get producers to grow only a limited number of varieties, that meet their concepts of what customers prefer.
The outcome of that is that the genetic pool of any one kind of fruit becomes more and more limited, so by growing heritage fruit trees, we are not only helping preserve the gene pool of heritage varieties of fruit, we also get to pick produce that is free from nasty chemicals and herbicides.
The fruit we pick from our backyard orchards is as fresh as it possibly can be, often even, straight from the tree.Flavour and texture, as well as a higher nutrient value due to no deterioration from storage are added bonuses!
Another benefit is that there are no food miles in food you harvest from your own garden, thus you are supporting efforts to minimise climate change, by not requiring any transporting of that home produce.
We are lucky in Ballarat to be close to two fabulous sources of heritage fruit trees.
At Beaufort, Rob Pelletier, runs the wonderful Heritage Fruit Trees nursery. Not only does he offer fabulous heritage fruit trees for sale, he also runs a highly informative website and mail order sales. In addition, late last year I attended his orchard workshop, which I would highly recommend to either backyard growers, like myself, to those looking at establishing an heritage fruit tree commercial orchard, or even schools involved in delivering horticultural or edible garden courses for their students.
Just beyond Ballan, is Diggers Club's Garden of St Erth. Here too, the legendary guru of home grown produce and heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables, Clive Blazey, oversees a nursery and like Heritage Fruit Trees, an excellent mail order service. Diggers Club also produces excellent quarterly newsletters for club members, as well as publications available for purchase. The display gardens at Garden of St Erth, make a fabulous family outing and the cafe, makes yummy food using ingredients purchased on site.
Don't worry if you have a small garden. Even with limited space I managed to squeeze 14 fruit trees into my Melbourne garden and techniques such as grafting and espalier offer even more options.
Many fruit trees are at least as ornamental as trees such as liquid ambers, or silver birches, but offer the added bonus of home grown food.
If you have room for only one tree, why not make it a fruit tree?
Even better, a multi-grafted heritage fruit tree!