Maintainance and carry-over of identification skills
As to the identification of old and mostly forgotten varieties: this no doubt is a constant learning process. Even the most experienced among us will occasionally be mistaken by difficult (bad and/or unripe fruit) and newly discovered species, particularly when not comparing notes with other colleagues.
It remains a constant learning process, not only from handbooks, and or other literature, particularly so because so many varieties, once prevalent, had never, or only grossly insufficiently been described.
In order to hand on knowledge required for varietal identification we and our colleagues are regularly organizing instruction sessions or invite those interested to join us at identificstion events. Interested individuals are thus given the opportunity to acquire such skills through physical exposure.
No less than by this means we attempt to maintain such skills and hope to prevent it from ultimate loss. The importance of this approach was already as from the late 1980’s recognized by some of our highly esteemed predecessors, from whom most of us learned the general skillls
There is little doubt that the skills required for reliable identification of heirloom fruit for the greater part emanates from experience accumulated over years of physical exposure to such varieties. And one keeps acquiring new knowledge as, to everyone’s surprise, novel discoveries still keep turning up.
We owe this to our predecessors, whom as early collectors had already as early as the years just after World War II, establishment collections of the varieties still found in their own region in those days
Unfortunately, as from the early 1970’s, government institutions concerned no longer felt overly concerned with, and/or were mandated and funded for maintenance of the traditional varieties. As a result, and further amplified by radically changing production systems, requiring just a few, purposely selected varieties, traditionally grown varieties had virtually disappeared by the 1980’s. Certainly the greater part of these would have vanished for good if not, as from an early stage, highly motivated individuals had taken up the task of collecting and maintaining these.
As such they may be considered as true forebearers of our current mission.