There are many Orchard Groups throughout the UK with objects similar to ours. Many are listed at the Orchard Network http://www.orchardnetwork.org.uk/, and include charitable foundations and commercial orchards throughout the UK that hold events or give advice. They also give details of the Habitat Action Plan (HAP) group for conserving wildlife in Traditional Orchards.
Peoples Trust for Endangered Species PTES http://ptes.org/ recognise that characteristic dead and decaying wood of fruit trees provides a unique living place for lots of species, particularly insects such as the stunning noble chafer beetle. Orchards are regarded by government, as well as us, as a priority for conservation action.
PTES are preserving traditional orchards by locating them, finding their condition and helping with restoration for wildlife. They provide a guide to wildlife management in traditional orchards. And they encourage anyone to become interested in carrying out wildlife surveys.
More specifically local orchard groups include:
Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project http://www.malvernhillsaonb.org.uk/three-counties-traditional-orchard-project/ is aiming to restore of these traditional orchards across the Three Counties – Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire – by training a pool of volunteers to help look after local orchards in their area. Initially work is underway in ten orchards, including wildlife surveys, apple ID in search of “finds”, possible replanting with local varieties.
Colwall Orchard Group http://www.colwallorchardgroup.org/ are sustaining, promoting and celebrating traditional orchards in the parish of Colwall in Herefordshire to the benefit of the whole community. Particularly they seek to improve orchards and derived produce, by encouraging the public’s appreciation, use and understanding for the longer term.
Gloucestershire Orchard Trust remit is “Conserves, promotes and
celebrates traditional orchards in Gloucestershire.” http://gloucestershireorchardtrust.org.uk/ Their list of local apples is particular noteworthy and this is a superb example of how to show apple varieties on the internet. GOT and MAN are at the beginning of a collaboration for mutual support, including sharing inventories, selecting varieties in each other’s collections to include in our own orchards, complementing (and complimenting!) each other’s displays at regional shows.
Shropshire Orchard Trust http://www.shropshireappletrust.co.uk/index.php offers products, services and advice to established or fledgling groups and to individuals wanting to set up organisations. They work to raise awareness of the importance of traditional orchards with their associated wildlife and the threats posed to the richness of traditional apple culture by increasing reliance on a few modern cultivars.
Midlands Fruit Group https://sites.google.com/site/rhsmidlandfruitgroup/home is an organisation based in the Midlands open to all interested in fruit growing, including apples, pears, cherries and soft fruit. Its aim is to encourage and advance the art, science and practice of fruit growing in all its aspects.
East of England Apples & Orchards Project http://www.applesandorchards.org.uk/ is committed to the many local varieties that come from the East of England. These and their orchard habitat need to be preserved for their local significance, genetic diversity, as local food sources and for their landscape and wildlife value. There are also hundreds of ‘lost’ fruit varieties known only from written records, and they ask for help from the public to find them
Northern Fruit Group http://www.northernfruitgroup.com/ is based in Yorkshire where it promotes knowledge of all types of fruit, especially suitable local varieties, attends public events, runs courses and provides advice to the public, and is setting up registers of orchards and varieties.
MAN has collected varieties from well over 150 traditional orchards throughout the Welsh Marches and preserved these in its museum orchards, four of which are in Powys, and two in Herefordshire; one of these in Powys is on land owned by MAN. We have planted about 600 trees variously grown on M9, MM106, M111 and M25 rootstocks. None of the orchards have been sprayed.
During MAN’s 21 years in existence over 50 varieties have been rediscovered that had been thought extinct. In total over 250 culinary and dessert local apple varieties have now been identified, and about another 100 are currently being investigated, perhaps resulting in more “finds”.
Members are cordially invited to visit and work in our orchards. For respecting the land-owner’s interests we do ask that visits are made by appointment with MAN officers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
It is the Trustees wish that Members see these orchard assets as a benefit of membership and an opportunity by which to gain interesting and useful experiences. Volunteer activity in them are strongly encouraged, on orchard management including planting, pruning, grafting, health, and harvesting. This may be more formal courses, or regular work parties, or ad-hoc arrangements among members as may be convenient.
Orchards have been given added importance in that Traditional Orchards were recently added to Local Biodiversity Action Plans. MAN is working with the Brecknock and Herefordshire Wildlife Trusts for carrying out wildlife surveys in MAN and Member orchards with a view to improving awareness about their value. And if you’d like to participate in recording ecological surveys please do contact us as above.
Many Members have planted their own orchards that contain some of these traditional and “re-found” varieties, thus enabling diversification of the geographic spread back to those areas from where the varieties originated and where they are best suited to local soils and climate. Often these Members are very willing to make their collections available to other Members for viewing and inspection, and for sharing experiences.
We encourage you to seize these opportunities.
Paramor near Cwmdu
Paramor is owned by MAN and is becoming our principle collection. There are 120 standard M25 trees mainly of local heritage varieties including those described in Welsh Marches Pomona and Apples of the Welsh Marches. Another 70 trees are of trees grown on semi-dwarfing MM106 bringing earlier fruiting for enabling identification (or confirmation of identification) of them. There is an active volunteer group that works in the orchard.
Photo: Planting up Paramor (get parental permission?)
In 1996 we started planting at Tredomen. It was our first orchard planted on 0.6 ha of land with about 190 trees growing on MM106 rootstock and another 30 on M9 rootstock. This collection partly comprise trees of local varieties as in Paramor, but there are duplicates and trees from throughout the country. The mix of varieties is a natural result of collecting scions from old trees local orchards in farms, estates and gardens, the fruit on which was sometimes of inferior quality making identification difficult or impossible. Many of these re-grafted trees are beginning to provide cleaner fruit than their parents for aiding identification.
Photos: General view of TC and Pruning course at TC
It is a private collection closely associated with a member with about 50 trees of varieties typical of the Welsh Marches.
This is our smallest orchard with now about 40 trees. It was home to unknown varieties, the early fruiting on these trees with M9 rootstock has helped in their identification. The majority of these trees are variously from around Britain and are now duplicated in our principle orchards.
Fifty trees on MM106 rootstock, about one-third local to the region.
Out smallest collection. Just 15 trees of which half are of local traditional varieties.
2016 Suggested photo: grafting course
Visiting and working in all our orchards is best arranged with prior permission by contacting the Chairman, Membership Secretary or Secretary.
This work has been given added importance in that Traditional Orchards were recently added to Local Biodiversity Action Plans. The very existence of MAN contributes to maintaining such orchards. It supports members and the public in extending orchard size and varieties, contributing to their preservation and wider benefit of wildlife (link to Orchard Biodiversity). During Autumn we sometimes see flocks of 100 or more Redwings descend onto our trees for their apple desserts! Here’s one of them searching for another snack…..
Photo: Redwing at TC