All from one small pip!
by Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To celebrate the potential of small beginnings.
Preparation and materials
- You will need some large Bramley cooking apples, plus a corer, knife and peeler.
- If yours is a church school, you might like to include the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13, given in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4, below. Familiarize yourself with the story and the accompanying ideas and actions so that you can get the children to join in. An alternative, using the same actions, is given in Step 5.
- Display the Bramley apples. Invite the children to note that they are bigger than many other apples. Observe that such apples can be very sour. Explain that this is because they are cooking apples. They are peeled, cored and sliced, sweetened with sugar and put into pies or crumbles. Demonstrate how an apple is prepared and point out that the small ‘pips’ are seeds.
- Continue by telling the story of how these large apples, a variety called Bramley apples,were first grown over 200 years ago in 1809 – starting from a very small beginning.
From one small pip
Mary’s mother carefully placed the apple pie in the simple oven in the cottage where they lived. She wiped her floury hands. ‘That’s all the baking done, Mary. Now let’s clear away.’
Mary Brailsford, who was 18, gathered up the remains of the apples she had prepared. Among the curls of green apple peel were pieces of the core and some dark brown pips.
‘I wonder,’ she said, ‘whether these will grow.’
‘You can try,’ her mother replied, ‘we may be lucky, but it will be a long time before we have any apples from them to make a pie!’
Outside, in the cottage garden, Mary found a small pot, filled it with earth and planted the pips, one by one. She stood the pot on the kitchen windowsill.
Later that spring, Mary was pleased to find a small, two-leaved seedling in her pot. One of the apple pips she had sown had grown! As it grew larger, she found it a bigger pot and, many baking days later, planted it in a sunny corner of the garden.
Eventually, she married and left the cottage where she had grown up. She had forgotten about the apple pip until, one day, her mother visited and brought her an apple pie. ‘I hope you enjoy it, Mary. I’ve made it with some of the apples that have grown on your tree!’ Mary was surprised! It astounded her to think that the small pip she had planted was now a tree producing apples of its own!
Years later, a newcomer called Mr Bramley came to live at the cottage where the apple tree still grew. By now, Mary’s tree was producing so many apples that many were given away to friends and neighbours. One day, they caught the attention of a man called Mr Merryweather. His family grew the fruit trees that were planted in orchards and gardens. ‘These are very fine apples,’ he remarked. ‘I’ve never seen this kind before. Could I take some cuttings to see if we can grow some more?’
‘Of course,’ replied Mr Bramley, ‘but (he chuckled) you must promise me one thing! Please will you call the apples Bramley, after me? I’d like my name to be famous!’
‘We’ll have to do our best to get these to grow then!’ replied Mr Merryweather as he carefully cut some shoots from the tree.
The shoots grew! Soon, more and more trees were producing the large cooking apples that became known as ‘Bramley’s Seedling’. They were the very best cooking apples. News of their quality spread and Bramley apples were the ones that people wanted to put in their pies.
Mr Merryweather sold hundreds of Bramley apple trees. Soon they could be found in orchards and cottage gardens all over Britain. The name Bramley was famous! Mr Merryweather, however, wanted to make sure that someone else was not forgotten, so he also told the story of how Mary first planted her apple pip. ‘Isn’t it amazing,’ he said, ‘that so many people can enjoy these wonderful apples that have all grown from one small pip!’
The story is amazing! The apple tree that Mary grew still stands in the garden of the cottage that was her home. It’s now very old, but still bears fruit. The name Bramley remains famous, too, because the Bramley apples that grew from Mary’s pip are still the best for baking and putting into pies!
- Observe that the story illustrates the importance of small beginnings and the miracle of harvest. That Mary’s tiny pip grew has meant fantastic crops of apples have been produced year after year and brought enjoyment to lots and lots of people. Small beginnings can bear much fruit.
- Church schools may wish to link this story to a parable (picture story) of the mustard seed Jesus told (Matthew 13). Prepare the children so that they can think about and make the following appropriate actions and responses to different words and phrases used in the story.
– When the word ‘seed’ is mentioned, they are to imagine placing a seed in the ground and exclaim, ‘So small!’
– Depict growth by linking your thumbs and outstretching your fingers to form two leaves.
– Lift your arms high to form a tree, exclaiming, ‘How tall!’
– Extend your arms wide in a circle, concluding, ‘For all!’
Jesus’ parable of a tiny seed
Jesus said, God’s pattern for life is like this.
Once a man sowed a tiny seed. ‘So small!’
It grew and grew into a large tree. ‘How tall!’
The tree became so large that lots of birds came to nest in its branches. ‘For all!’
- Alternatively, rehearse the story of the Bramley apple seed and actions in the same way as given in Step 4, above, but with the following wording.
The tiny Bramley apple seed
Let’s celebrate life’s pattern.
Once a girl sowed a tiny seed. ‘So small!’
It grew and grew into a large tree. ‘How tall!’
The tree became so large, lots of people enjoyed the fruit that grew on its branches. ‘For all!’
Time for reflection
Invite everyone to spend some moments thinking about the story and the importance of small beginnings.
What beginnings might you make today?
Like Mary, will you act on the seed of an idea?
Like Mr Merryweather, will you make the most of a small opportunity?|
Like Mr Bramley, will you be willing to share?
We thank you today for the fruits of the Earth
and the fruits of thoughtfulness, giving, patience and care.