Lynn Finnegan enjoying a previous Apple Festival with children in Cloughjordan.Photo: Eoin Campbell

From Electric Picnic to Cloughjordan - via apples!

Having brought two generations from North Tipperary to build and animate the Global Green at the Electric Picnic 2023 - the festival's sustainability area - Cloughjordan folks are at it again.

That's because Cloughjordan will be full of fruit and fun on Saturday, September 23, as the annual AppleFest - Féile na nÚll - is held in the ecovillage there. Running from 1pm until 6pm, in and around the Wecreate Enterprise Centre, this community festivity will see apple-pressing, a market and food stalls, tours and talks, family activities, music games and an apple bake contest.

Gemma Burgha and Conor Mongey enjoying the Apple Festival. Photo: Eoin Campbell

This year's event sees both electric and bicycle-powered apple-pressing, as was featured to such enthusiasm at the Global Green in the Electric Picnic. There will be informative tours of the apple orchards of the Cloughjordan Ecovillage, where dozens of heritage apple varieties were sourced, some years ago from the Irish Seed Savers’ collection.

You can bring your apples and have them pressed on the day - you can even join in on the action. Apple pressing will happen in conjunction with local social enterprise the Night Orchard. The press is fully participatory and family friendly. Bring your own apples for pressing or gather windfalls on the day from around the Ecovillage.

Remember, if you want to bring your juice home, you will need to bring appropriate containers - the ratio tends to be two to one - 10 kilos of apples equals five litres of juice, approximately.

This year, a bicycle-powered press is a new addition, having featured at this year’s Electric Picnic for its first outing. This isn’t the only new eco element - this celebration of apples is also about making positive, ecological and joyful use of an abundant local resource. Apple trees are perennial fruit producers, good for biodiversity, and good for climate adaptation and mitigation - good all round!

Talks upstairs in Wecreate and in the Cuan Beo education area will include one on community-led responses to the Climate and Ecological Emergency (2.30, Wecreate) and a Short History of the Cloughjordan Apple Collection (3.30, Cuan Beo). An apple-preserving (drying, dehydrating) workshop will be held at 2pm.

An event within the event is the apple bake contest, where participants can showcase their culinary creativity by entering their best apple-based recipes.

For the apple bake contest, simply bring your bake to WeCreate from 1pm - 3pm; the categories are: Under 15s; Home Bakers; Some Professional Experience. The announcement of the winners takes place at 5pm.

Games will include giant Jenga, and a giant Connect 4, while the local Community Seed Bank, Research Education and Demonstration (RED) Gardens, and ecovillage itself will all provide tours and interaction during the day. All day from 1pm, market and food stalls will be set up, showcasing a diverse array of culinary delights, local produce and handmade crafts, many available via the Cloughjordan Food Hub, based in the Wecreate Enterprise Centre, the North Tipperary Online Farmers Market, and the regular Cloughjordan market.

Féile na nÚll is not just a celebration of apples; it’s a celebration of community, sustainability, creativity, and shared experiences. Whether you’re a food lover, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, this festival offers a little something for everyone. So mark your calendar, gather your apples, and join in the festivities at Cloughjordan Ecovillage.

Entry is free, but feel free to support all the great local enterprises there on the day. This is one of hundreds of events taking place across Europe marking the European Day of Sustainable Communities, a celebration of local initiatives taking action for a fairer and more sustainable world.