The Hessen's favourite drink - apple wine - is still being celebrated until Sunday at the Roßmarkt in downtown Frankfurt. The popular apple wine festival is the ideal place to pay tribute to the people who make a special contribution to the Hessian orchards. For such people, the Naturschutz-Akademie Hessen, MGH GUTES AUS HESSEN GmbH and the Verband der Hessischen Apfelwein- und Fruchtsaft-Keltereien e. V. (Association of Hessian Apple Wine and Fruit Juice Pressing Plants) launched the Golden Apple Award in 2007.
This year a real “all-round caregiver“ was honoured as Hessen's best orchard meadow protector: Torsten Horn from Eschwege. He takes care of several orchards in the Werra-Meissner district. Whether it is the planting of old fruit varieties, sheep grazing, bird nesting boxes and beehives, Torsten Horn is a conservationist with a lot of hertz blood that must be appreciated. And so city councillor Rosemarie Heilig presented the award to the committed orchard conservationist together with prize money of 1,000 euros.
„It impresses me again and again how much people identify with our cultural heritage of orchards and invest so much time and passion in their care“, Rosemarie Heilig stated at the award ceremony. “Torsten Horn is an outstanding example of this and has more than earned the Golden Apple.“ „I am very pleased that we learned of his commitment through Mr. Horn's application for the Golden Apple“, says Albert Langsdorf, director of the Hesse Nature Conservation Academy and member of the seven-member jury of representatives of the initiators of the Golden Apple. “It quickly became clear that he would be this year's winner of the award.“
Deserving Award Winner
Torsten Horn has had a sponsorship contract for fruit tree care on a meadow orchard near Eschwege since 2015, one year before he had leased another meadow from the city. Both meadows are together 8,800 square meters large and have partly also older tree existence. The 60 fruit trees of the meadows are mostly apple trees of common varieties such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Weißer Glockenapfel and Goldparmäne, but also pear, plum, sweet and sour cherry trees are among them. Two years ago Torsten Horn replaced some missing trees with old apple varieties such as Körler Edelapfel, Heuchelheimer Schneeapfel and Martens Sämling as well as two varieties of mirabelle, Nancy and Metzmirabelle. As a member of the BUND local group Werra-Meißner-Kreis he was also involved in the creation of a “Reiser- Wiese“ for the preservation of native fruit varieties and was able to contribute his experience in the refinement of fruit trees. 25 trees of old regional varieties stand for further plantings in his growing bed. His meadows and also those of the BUND keep his Shropshire sheep short. In addition, sheep grazing protects against excessive vole expression. The areas are managed without fertilisers and pesticides. He gives the fruit that is not for his own consumption to the Werra-Meißner fruit-scattering initiative. In addition, Torsten Horn has hung up 30 nesting boxes for different bird species on his surface. A beekeeper friend makes his bees available for pollination. The honey harvest is so good that he can set up further hives.
„Even in the twelfth year of the award, the Golden Apple does not lose its attractiveness“, says Julia Kraushaar, Managing Director of MGH Gutes aus Hessen GmbH. “We have received numerous applications from private individuals and organisations. “ “ Protection of orchards is and remains an important issue in nature conservation“, explains Albert Langsdorf. “The meadows provide habitats for more than 5,000 animal and plant species and are therefore valuable biotopes.“ City Councillor Heilig also emphasised the great importance of orchards in her laudation: „The meadows shape large parts of our local landscape and deserve special protection. However, they can only be maintained in the long term if a sensible use of the fruit is guaranteed and there is awareness and acceptance among the population for the local orchards.“
The sensible use of the fruit is particularly close to the heart of Martin Heil, Chairman of the Association of Hessian Cider and Fruit Juice Pressing Plants (Verband der Hessischen Apfelwein- und Fruchtsaft-Keltereien e. V.). “Every year valuable natural resources remain unused on Hessian orchards. Under the motto ‚Apples belong in the glass!‘ we call on orchard meadow owners to help process as many native orchard meadow apples as possible into apple wine and apple juice. Harvesting apples at the right time and bringing them to the wine press is an important contribution to maintaining the orchard.