A gathering of snippets and news from around the country

Added 31 October 2008

What's Your Story - The Rivers Nursery Site and Orchard Group has been given a grant for the year to come by Awards for All to carry out an oral history project. The project will focus on two main activities:

1- Gathering as oral history the voices of those who had contact with the historic Rivers Nursery business, closing in 1987, or who have significant information about its contribution to horticulture and to gardens great and small. We hope to involve young people from local primary and high schools to work with adult interviewers and to save the interviews as CD disks in our Archives, accessible to all.

2 - Publishing edited oral history within the context of background from the Archives and other material as a book on the history of the Rivers Nursery.

If you have Rivers stories, information, or catalogues and materials to share, please get in touch with Archivist Elizabeth Waugh, on +44(0)1279 320099 or by email riversnurserysiteandorchardgroup [at] hotmail.co.uk. We look forward to hearing your tales!

Growing Own Root Fruit Trees - A two-day course on how to propagate and grow fruit trees without grafting. Fruit trees grown on their own roots are healthier and produce fruit of better quality, flavour & storage life. 21-22 February 2009 - NOW TAKING BOOKINGS. For full details & online reservation please visit: www.brightonpermaculture.co.uk

PODCAST on the BBC website. Sue Clifford talks to Cavan Scott about the origins of Apple Day, the importance of orchards and the connections between nature and culture www.bbccountryfile.com/podcast.asp [October]

Added 27 March 2008

Community Orchards Handbook - Common Ground's new publication is due for release in spring of 2008 - READ MORE HERE.

Added 5 February 2008

New Public Liability Scheme for Community Orchards - Towergate Underwriting Entertainment are offering Public Liability Insurance of £5 million to Community Orchards and Communtiy Gardens for £99-170 with a simple to complete form. For further information see the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens website or contact David Still at Towergate on 0207 3982248 or david.still [at] towergate.co.uk

Added 1 February 2008

'Protecting Our Orchard Heritage, a good practice guide for managing orchard projects' has been published by Sustain as a culmination of their Orchard Project with Leader Plus (a European Union funded programme of rural development) to conserve and bring into sustainable management traditional orchards in six Leader+ funded areas: Herefordshire Rivers, Somerset Level and Moors, Teignbridge, North West Devon, Mid Kent and Cumbria Fells and Dales. See www.sustainweb.org

New Technical Advice Notes for orchards - Natural England have produced a series of 10 technical advice notes for conserving and creating traditional orchards. Practical expert advice on everything from laying out a new orchard to restorative pruning and grazing. See www.naturalengland.org.uk

Added 31 October 2007

A New Apple for Dorset - The Woolcombe Beauty was planted as a pip in around 1971 at Woolcombe Farm, Melbury Bubb by the dairyman's wife. It is being propagated from 2007 with help from the Symondsbury Apple Project as it has proved to be a lovely apple, crisp and juicy, and reminiscent of Adam's Pearmain. Anyone interested in planting a Woolcombe Beauty should contact Richard and Sally-Jane Emm at Woolcombe Farm on 01935 86340.

Added 5 October 2007

Apple Day is 18 this year! See the full list of events across the country here. As part of the celebrations Common Ground has created an Apple Day Virtual Gallery with paintings, drawings, sculptures and more linking with the Fitswilliam Museum Cambridge, the V&A and the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester among others. See 21 apple varieties on our new webpage An Apple a Day for the first 21 days of October and see photos from Apple Days from 1990 to the present in our Apple Day archive.

To celebrate, Common Ground have published a new edition of THE APPLE SOURCE BOOK particular uses for diverse apples

by Sue Clifford and Angela King with Philippa Davenport
for Common Ground
Hodder & Stoughton
4 October 2007
hb 304 pages, b&w illustrations £16.99

The Apple Source Book is a celebration of nearly 3,000 varieties of apple we can grow in these islands, with their distinctive flavours, uses, places of origin, stories and associated customs.
Recipes from 52 chefs, food writers and gardeners are complemented by a wealth of useful information about apple identification, orchards, wild life, specialist nurseries, suppliers of fruit, blossom routes, Community Orchards as well as ideas for Apple Day, wassailing, juice pressing, cider making and a 40 page county by county gazetteer of where varieties originated. Taking the apple as a symbol of the physical, cultural and genetic diversity that we should not let slip away, The Apple Source Book demonstrates how anyone can make a difference.

Traditional orchards listed as Priority Habitats in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan -Natural England has included traditional orchards in the Priority Habitat list of the UK BAP. Research demonstrated the richness of species that orchards support and the status of the habitat as being increasingly rare. The announcement was made in the traditional orchards of Days Cottage Apple Juice, Gloucestershire on 28th August. In 1999 English Nature (now Natural England) formally recognised the importance of traditional orchards for wild life with the joint Common Ground/English Nature conference ‘Orchards and Wild Life’ in Herefordshire (Conference papers available from Common Ground). Further information from Dr Heather Robertson atNatural England on 01733 455252.

The People's Trust for Endangered Species Traditional Orchards Survey continues to discover more abut the ecology of traditional orchards focussing on the endangered noble chafer beetle. Recently evidence of noble chafers have been found in the orchards of Weston's Cider, Herefordshire. Orchard owners are asked to contact PTES if they would like their orchard to be included in the survey and an initial questionnaire can be requested. Contact PTES on +44(0)20 7498 4533 or see www.ptes.org

Orchards in Scotland - The Carse of Gowrie Orchards Management Seminar - an event to officially launch the new Carse of Gowrie Orchard Survey results. Tuesday 16 October 2007 at the Inchture Hotel, Inchture (between Perth and Dundee). The seminar will also involve discussions of future plans for a project to safeguard the traditional orchards in the area. There will be presentations in the morning and a tour of Megginch Castle Orchards with John Butterworth in the afternoon to discuss the practical side of orchard management. Future events will be planned -please ask to be kept informed. Contact: Catherine Lloyd on 01382 433042, tayside.biodiversity[at]ukf.net or see a programme and booking form on www.taysidebiodiversity.co.uk

Restoring orchards in North Devon - Michael Gee, Chairman of Orchards Live will be giving an illustrated talk on Exmoor's Orchards on 13 November at the Dovery Manor Museum. Orchards Live are expanding their work to include the orchards of Exmoor. There will also be a Restorative Pruning Course on 10 December at the National Trust Study Centre at Piles Mill, Alresford with practical work in the adjoining orchards. The instructor is Chris Patt, a retired orchardist, and the course is supported by Exmoor National Park Authority. As part of their work to arrest the loss of orchards in North Devon, Orchards Live run approximately one hundred training events on orchard restoration, orchard establishment, orchard management, pruning, grafting, cider and juice making. Read more on their website www.orchardslive.org.uk

North Devon Orchard Grant Scheme - a new scheme has been launched North Devon Coast & Countryside Service and North West Devon Leader+, offering grants to restore traditional orchards and plant new ones in North Devon. Grants are available of up to 50% of costs for businesses and up to 75% for community orchards. Contact: North Devon Coast & Countryside service on 01237 423655.


Added 20 July 2007

Orchards for wild life - The People's Trust for Endangered Species has produced a booklet 'Traditional Orchards, a Guide to Wildlife and Management' that highlights the ecological importance of traditional orchards and focusses on the endangered Noble Chafer. For further information contact PTES on +44(0)20 7498 4533 or see www.ptes.org

Bridgets, Keswicks and Reinettes - Orchard Survey work has been carried out in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanting Natural Beauty in the north of the county (and a tiny part of the old Westmorland) with the aid of a Sustainable Development Grant and a booklet charting the orchard heritage of the area was published in the 2007. Preliminary research has led to the discovery of two 'missing' varieties, Irish Reinette and Kane's Seedling (subject to confirmation) and there are several 'mystery' apples, which have yet to be identified. The booklet is called 'Bridgets, Keswicks and Reinettes - Orchards of the Arnside & Silverdale AONB' which includes research into the value of orchards and the diversity of fruit varieties within the landscape of the AONB, a look at the unique history of selected orchards, practical advice on growing and maintaining fruit trees, and investigations into outlets for surplus fruit. Copies cost £3 from the Arnside & Silverdale AONB, The Old Station Building, Arnside, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 0HG, tel: +44(0)1524 761034.


Man-made Eden: Historic Orchards of Somerset and Gloucestershire - a new book by James Russell explores history of orchards in teh counties. Why is Glastonbury known as Avalon, the Isle of Apples? What made Redstreak Cyder the most popular drink of the seventeenth century? Who was Dr Ashmead, cultivator of the connoisseur’s favourite apple, Ashmead’s Kernel? How did a Somerset vicar come to make cider for Queen Victoria? This rich, wide-ranging book takes a long historic look at changing fashions and fortunes – asking why thirteenth-century monks and Edwardian landowners planted orchards, and why post-war governments paid farmers to destroy them. The author looks at the current work that has raosed awareness of the importance of traditional orchards, and asks: what can we do to make our orchards as profitable as they were in centuries past? James Russell has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, Countryman Magazine, BBC History Magazine, British Heritage, Somerset Life, the Bristol and Bath Magazines, Venue and many other publications. Man-made Eden: Historic Orchards of Somerset and Gloucestershire by James Russell, Recliffe Press Ltd, October 2007. Hardback £15. ISBN 978-1-904537-75-5


Orchard Presence at Arboricultural Trade Shows - "The East of England Apples and Orchards Project has recently sponsored two appearances at arboricultural trade shows by Debbie Bryce who put together trade stands aimed at the arboricultural world as well as the public. Capel Manor's 'Celebration of Trees' event at the end of April was in its fifth year, while the annual Arboricultural Association Trade Show at the end of June is a well established event, this year held on the Bathurst Estate, Cirencester. At both events, Debbie, with help from Anita Burroughs of the People's Trust for Endangered Species and a display and representative from a local orchard group (Rivers Nursery Orchard, Herts; Gloucestershire Orchards Group) spent two days handing out a wide range of information and discussing orchard issues with the tree officers, consultants and contractors attending the shows. Most of these come across orchards and veteran fruit trees in their work but admit they do not feel fully informed about how to deal with them and what the full range of issues is. They certainly don't connect much with the orcharding world, thereby missing out on crucial expertise and contacts when it comes to assessing orchard age, cultivars, resident species and advice to clients, whether developers or landowners. Some tree officers were still under the impression that fruit trees cannot be TPO'd or that only visual amenity is a reason to do so. The Government does not go out of its way to update tree officers about changes to TPO regulations, such as the advent of PPS9 Circular paragraphs 90 and 91 stating that biodiversity is now a TPO consideration. The first planning legal case in the 1920s was about TPOs and held that 'amenity' is not only 'visual amenity' but any benefit or pleasure to the public. This message has yet to reach many tree officers. Some contractors admitted that they saw little point in raising the importance of orchards with their clients. They gave the honest picture that clients usually want to get rid of their orchards and don't want to be told why orchards are important or about the paltry financial assistance available to retain and manage orchards, which involves competitive funding applications for small amounts of money. Many visitors to the shows explained that unless there is statutory protection for orchards, there is little to prevent removal. One or two stated that orchards and other trees are often removed before any tree consultant visits a site and there is nothing to stop this.

In July, Debbie Bryce and Caroline Davis of the Ancient Tree Forum will be meeting Natural England to discuss the problems of orchard protection, the lack of protection that their designation as UK Priority Habitat will have, and the fact that local authorities cannot be the sole source of protection since local authorities are often not involved with sites containing orchards to be removed and in any case are too limited in their own resources and expertise to provide a reliable method of protection in council decision-making. An article on the seminar is due in Horticulture Week on 2nd August." Debbie Bryce

Debbie is keen to hear from anyone interested in helping man a stand promoting orchard protection and conservation at arboricultural trade shows. The person would need to be knowledgeable about traditional orchards, in particular the need for appropriate specialists or experienced orchard people to assess species and habitat, to advise on management, community orchards, funding and assistance, if possible. Contact: Debbie Bryce
debbie.bryce[at]gmail.com +44(0)1245-231023.The next trade show is at Warwick University 2-5 September.

Added 23 May 2007

FRUIT FORUM - A debate is raging about the Brogdale fruit collection on the Fruit Forum - fruitforum.wordpress.com/tag/brogdale/

Added 15 May 2007

CELEBRATE MAY AT WILSON'S ORCHARD, NORTHAMPTON - Saturday 19 May, 2-5pm at Wilson's Orchard, Northampton. join in the celebrations of the MAD & MERRY MONTH OF MAY. Organised by South Court Environmental. Wilson's Orchard is off Magnolia Close near Billing Road East. There will be singing, dancing, folklore. "Help to celebrate the real beginning of the year with the taste of real apple juice". Contact: Peter Nalder on 01604 630719 or Susan Walmsley on 01933 275257, email scesusan[at]fsmail.net or see www.scenorthampton.org.uk

Added 26 April 2007

APPLE DAY IS 18 THIS YEAR! Apple Day has come of age! On October 21st it will be 18 years since Common Ground held the first Apple Day in London’s Covent Garden, to draw attention to the plight of our orchards and to the versatility of our favourite home-grown fruit. The preceding All Fruits Eve offers the moment to chorus a thank you to pear, plum, damson, quince, cherry, elder, hazel, walnut, medlar and more. This year we hope celebrations will be extra special. Read more in our media release.


APPLE DAY EVENTS LIST 2007 - the events list has started at www.commonground.org.uk and will continue to be updated until Apple Day, October 21st. So please let us know if you are organising an event or know of one in your area.


COMMUNITY ORCHARD TRAINING DAY - The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens are holding a Community Orchard Training Event on Saturday 19th May at Horfield Organic Community Orchard, Horfield, Bristol, from 9.30 - 4.00pm. The cost is £5 per person FCFCG member groups, £15 others. The event will be facilitated by Pauline Markovits (Horfield Organic Community Orchard) and Tim Baines (Bath Organic Group’s Community Garden) both of whom are very experienced community gardeners and FCFCG Fieldworkers. The course offers a chance to:

• Find out about establishing and developing a Community Orchard

• Organic growing, varieties, pruning, training, distributing fruit, encouraging wildlife, funding, acquiring land, insurance, organising events, community involvement, working with volunteers etc.

• Meet fellow community gardeners, growers and farmers

• Share ideas, news and discuss issues of particular relevance to Community Orchards

• Guided tour of Horfield Organic Community Orchard

• Find out more about, comment on, and help shape the work of FCFCG

For further details contact : Paul Jayson. Development Worker, Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Hereford Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4NA. Tel 0117 9231800 Fax 0117 9231900 Email paul[at]farngarden.org.uk


DAMSON FRUIT DAY will be on the 29 September 2007 in the Argles Memorial Hall, Crosthwaite, Westmorland. It is organised by the Westmorland Damson Association and offers a chance to buy damsons and damson products. See www.lythdamsons.org.uk for more information.

Added 22 March 2007

Barrington Court near Ilminster, Somerset has produced a Centenary Cider to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Trust acquiring this property, its first mansion. The cider was pressed from the harvest from Barrington's orchards at the end of October 2006 using a 150 year old press loaned to the Trust. BC100, as it is known, was first tasted at Wassailing on 17 Januaryand it will be sold by the glass from the restaurant during 2007 while stocks last. See the website

Added 31 January 2007

HELP SAVE YALBERTON ORCHARDS IN DEVON - "At Yalberton, the cider apple orchards are like a green oasis beyond the ugly sheds of an industrial estate, creeping out over the fertile fields. Cider is still made in the old cider-house, and sold from the farmhouse. The valley was recognised in the Local Plan as an area of great landscape vale, but beware! orchards are not formally protected under planning law; they are most threatened habitat in the UK. In Devon, in the last 50 years, we have lost over 90% of our orchard land, and a great deal of it to development… The residents have formed the Yalberton Valley Action Group, and started to campaign to save the valley. At a Public Meeting, Mike Fox admitted that the proposals to make Yalberton the preferred option for an ‘urban extension’ were never shown to, or agreed, by elected councillors. They were drawn up, apparently, ‘behind closed doors’ to enable the Council to make a bid for Government money. The Meeting was packed and could not contain all the locals who had come to protest. Unanimously they asked them to remove this proposal from the ‘growth point plan’, but it is still an option which the Council will be considering.Torbay needs urban regeneration, surely not extension over the countryside at Yalberton, or at any of its possible extension site: not more traffic gridlock, not the loss of more wildlife habitats, not flooding from more buildings in the valleys. Our countryside matters, and so of course to our orchards. They need your protection". An article by Jacquie Sarsby, from Orchard Link News,Volume 2.02, Winter 2006.

The Yalberton Valley Action Group ask you to write to: Mike Yeo Strategic Director for Community Services, or Mike Fox, Assistant Director, Environmental Policy and Strategic Planning, Community Services, both at Roebuck House, Abbey Road, Torquay TQ2 5TF, and/or Nick Bye, the Mayor, Town Hall, Castle Circus, Torquay TQ1 3DR. See also www.saveyalbertonvalley.org.uk

News Archive : 2006

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