Last year the National Trust and Natural England launched a project aimed at halting the decline in traditional orchards.
The organisations claimed that 60% of England’s orchards had disappeared since the 1950s and that some areas, including Devon, had lost almost 90%.
They argued that if nothing was done, what was once a focal point for communities across the country and a crucial habitat for wildlife could be wiped out.
Another charity that campaigns on rural issues, the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT), also expressed alarm at Alistair Darling’s announcement. It argued that as well as providing wildlife habitats, cider and cider apples were “important to the culture” of the West Country.
‘We now have a real opportunity to reverse the decline of traditional orchards and recognise the important role they play in our cultural and natural heritage; if we don’t act there is a real danger that they will not survive the twenty-first century. Kate Merry, Orchard Officer, The National Trust
How you can make a difference!
You do not have to own an orchard to do something positive. Attending an Apple Day is an excellent and fun way to find out more and meet some orchard experts. You may have a Community Orchard in your area – to find out where they are, or for advice about starting one yourself you can contact Common Ground. Many counties have an Orchard Group which you can join. These groups and also local colleges often run workshops in fruit tree pruning and propagating techniques.
You could plant your own fruit tree – a local variety will be suited to your region’s soil type and climate and so will grow well. You could do some research into rare, local varieties and help to ensure their survival. Specialist nurseries will be able to help. Try to buy orchard produce such as fruit, cider, juice and chutney from local markets and suppliers.
More information on the orchard project and details of how people can plant their own traditional orchard or get involved email: [email protected]