The International Tree Fruit Association visited the picturesque Hardanger region of Norway in early August, where cherry trees thrive in high tunnels and apple orchards dot the landscape.  (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)
The Worldwide Tree Fruit Affiliation visited the picturesque Hardanger area of Norway in early August, the place cherry timber thrive in excessive tunnels and apple orchards dot the panorama. (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)
A map of the area of ​​Norway where the International Tree Fruit Association toured this summer.  (Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)
A map of the realm of ​​Norway the place the Worldwide Tree Fruit Affiliation toured this summer time. (Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)

After a protracted, sleepy flight from North America, the descent to Bergen Airport in Norway is a wake-up name. A powerful panorama unfolds earlier than our eyes. The spectacular fjords, carved over centuries by glacial erosion, are surrounded by steep cliffs and snow-capped mountains. Communities and orchards stretch alongside the sloping edges of the fjords.

In a matter of minutes we arrived in Bergen, a metropolis on the western coast of Norway that has been right here for over a thousand years. After amassing our luggage, we depart the airport and see an enormous, ridiculous welcome signal. It says “BERGEN?” To me, that query mark on the finish may be very applicable.

It was in all probability added as an expression of the Norwegian humorousness, with the intention of amusing (or complicated!) guests. However for me it represents the questions I’ve about this fascinating area: with a panorama composed primarily of water, mountains and rocks, how have Norwegians fed themselves over the centuries? And the way can apples and cherries be grown in an space so near the Arctic Circle?

All shall be revealed through the nine-day “Fruit within the Fjordlands” tour with the Worldwide Tree Fruit Affiliation. Hosted by Molly Crist of Onward Journey and IFTA Schooling Director Greg Lang of Michigan State College, we might discover the fjords of Norway and see firsthand how this magnificent however difficult panorama can bear fruit.

Buying and selling Fish for Grain: Bergen’s Commerce Historical past

After settling into our lodge, our first vacation spot was the Schøtstuene museum in Bryggen, Bergen’s most historic neighborhood and a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. Right here, lining Bergen’s waterfront, are the enduring, colourful picket buildings that make this metropolis well-known. A few of these buildings date again to the 18th century, however there have been comparable ones on this web site within the Center Ages.

Within the 14th century, retailers from northern Europe gathered right here to commerce. A lot of them got here from cities and cities in what’s now Germany. These retailers have been members of the Hanseatic League, an influential buying and selling alliance on the time. They imported much-needed grain and exported Bergen “dried cod,” which was cod harvested regionally and dried within the open air.

Cherry tunnels are built into the slopes of the fjords.  Often the ends of the tunnels are left open to allow breezes to pass through, which keeps the tunnels dry and prevents overheating.  (Susan Poizner/for Good Fruit Grower)
Cherry tunnels are constructed into the slopes of the fjords. Usually the ends of the tunnels are left open to permit breezes to cross by way of, which retains the tunnels dry and prevents overheating.(Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)

Fjord microclimates and craft ciders in Balestrand

After leaving Bergen, our group traveled alongside the canals to Balestrand, a small city on the northern shore of the Sognefjord, which is without doubt one of the deepest fjords in Norway. Alongside the best way, we handed spectacular cliffs, waterfalls, charming villages and extraordinary orchards rising alongside the slopes.

It is laborious to think about how a tractor may go up and down the rows with out slipping into the crystal clear waters of the fjord. And but, these orchards have been thriving because of the resilience of the growers.

The primary orchard and cider home we visited was Ciderhuset, based in 1922 by Andreas Eitungjerde. In these early years, Andreas’ apples have been despatched to factories to make generic apple juice. However when Andreas’ grandson Åge took over within the ’90s, his aim was to create craft ciders.

Ciderhuset now sells greater than a dozen various kinds of craft cider. It additionally produces non-alcoholic juices in a rainbow of colours, all made with apple juice flavored with native berries, herbs, and even rhubarb.

Åge Eitungjerde, owner of Ciderhuset cider in Balestrand, Norway, displays a variety of his craft ciders.  The region's climate encourages the apples to develop ideal acids to balance the sweetness of the cider.  (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)
Åge Eitungjerde, proprietor of Ciderhuset cider in Balestrand, Norway, shows a wide range of his craft ciders. The area’s local weather encourages the apples to develop splendid acids to steadiness the sweetness of the cider. (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)

Lately, this a part of Norway has grow to be well-known for its ciders. The key, Eitungjerde mentioned, is the distinctive rising situations. The towering mountains, together with the presence of water within the fjords under, create a microclimate the place apple timber thrive. The temperature is hotter than different components of Norway, however summer time days are by no means actually sizzling, which permits the apples to ripen slowly, giving the fruit acids sufficient time to develop. These acids supply a contemporary, vibrant taste that balances the sweetness of the fruit. The ensuing juice is good for making cider.

Nonetheless, growers should work with a brief rising season. They plant early or mid-season apples, such because the Danish selection Gravenstein (from the seventeenth century), a Swedish selection referred to as Aroma (launched in 1973), the English Discovery apple (launched in 1962), and a Canadian selection referred to as Summerred (launched in 1964). ). .

Norway’s covert strategy to cherry cultivation in Hardanger

From Balestrand we cross to the Hardanger area, thought of the fruit bowl of Norway. Right here, alongside the banks of the fjords, we noticed many cherry orchards, all of which protected the timber beneath some type of cowl, from a easy tent cowl to costly excessive tunnels.

Throughout a go to to the Bioforsk Analysis Middle, which is a part of the Norwegian Bioeconomy Analysis Institute, fruit crop physiology analysis professor Mekjell Meland defined that one hundred pc of economic cherry orchards in Norway are lined as a result of Frequent and heavy rains within the area would in any other case trigger cracking of the cherry and the unfold of bacterial canker.

Professor Mekjell Meland, left, an expert in fruit crop physiology at the Norwegian Bioeconomy Research Institute, poses with Greg Lang of Michigan State University, in a cherry research tunnel linked to the Bioforsk Research Centre.  (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)
Professor Mekjell Meland, left, an skilled in fruit crop physiology on the Norwegian Bioeconomy Analysis Institute, poses with Greg Lang of Michigan State College, in a cherry analysis tunnel linked to the Bioforsk Analysis Middle. (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)

By masking cherry timber in excessive tunnels instantly after flowering, native growers can keep away from these issues. In line with Lang, rising cherry timber in excessive tunnels could also be much more efficient in Norway than in a hotter local weather.

“Excessive tunnels in most sizzling summer time environments can get extremely popular,” he mentioned. “However right here, since they’re grown within the fjord, on very steep terrain, a chimney impact is produced with the rise in warmth. So if the tunnels are open on the prime and backside, you get air motion by way of the tunnel. Plus, it is Norway and it is by no means that sizzling.”

In the course of the nine-day journey, we met native farmers, loved native delicacies, and discovered in regards to the historical past and tradition of this area. On the finish of the journey we made yet another cease: the Hardanger Akvasenter, a fish farm the place we discovered about aquaculture and loved a meal of the freshest salmon I’ve ever tasted.

In the Hardanger region, orchards are planted next to historic houses, churches and farms, benefiting from the nutrient-rich soils found at the lower levels of the fjord slopes.  (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)
Within the Hardanger area, orchards are planted subsequent to historic homes, church buildings and farms, benefiting from the nutrient-rich soils discovered on the decrease ranges of the fjord slopes. (Susan Poizner/by Good Fruit Grower)

And so the tour ended because it started: the inhabitants of this area equipped top-quality fish to patrons from all around the world. However for the reason that fifteenth century, one factor has modified: Norwegians have used their creativity and ingenuity to construct a profitable fruit trade that may encourage growers world wide.

by Susan Poizner

Susan Poizner is the creator of the award-winning fruit tree care instructional web site that gives articles, podcasts, on-line programs, books and movies on fruit tree care. She is an city horticulturist primarily based in Toronto, Canada, and has earned certification from the Worldwide Society of Arboriculture as an ISA Licensed Arborist.

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