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Tündérkert Movement – Saving Fruit Tree Genes


Tündérkert Movement – Saving Fruit Tree Genes


Thanks to the years-long effort of forest ranger Kovács Gyula, founder of the Tündérkert Movement, over 2,000 indigenous apple, pear, plum, apricot and peach tree saplings can now be found on his property in Göcsej.  When in the 1980’s, he saw ancient strains of fruit trees destroyed, he determined to try to save the remaining cultural riches of indigenous pomology (i.e., fruit culture).  He set up the first Tündérkert together with actor Szarvas József and writer Ambrus Lajos, to preserve local strains of fruit trees, graft them, and return them to their native region. 

In the past 20 years alone, in the Göcsej area, the number of fruit tree strains has decreased by 50!  Kovács says it is therefore imperative to act now to save the remaining kinds before they too disappear forever. 

By now, there are approximately 100 other tündérkert in the Carpathian Basin, including locations in Transylvania, Upper Hungary (Felvidék) and in the Mura region.  The Csángós of Moldva and the Székelys of Bukovina have also begun to collect their indigenous fruit trees.  All of them have sent saplings to the fruit tree gene bank set up at Nova, County Zala, near the Austrian border, to preserve and propagate local strains.  This year alone, 1,140 vines have been sent to Kovács Gyula for grafting, including strains unknown to the pomologists themselves. 

Szarvas József, in his tündérkert at Viszák, has 83 indigenous fruit trees.  Branches snipped from the trees are grafted onto stock (vadalany), and until their roots grow strong, they are cared for and watered by ”parents” who will eventually be able to eat the fruit.  Each year since 2009, when he established his tündérkert, as many indigenous trees are added as there were children born in the village the previous year.  Thus each child in the village has one tree to care for.

The Ministry for Rural Development has given high priority to the preservation of genetic sources and is very supportive of the Tündérkert Movement.





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