There are a growing number of orchard initiatives and related enterprises within the UK, particularly in the south of England but also within Scotland. Many of the groups are facing similar challenges and they can be a great source of ideas for activities and new initiatives .
Orchard Groups in Scotland
The Newburgh Orchard Group
The Newburgh Orchard Group was set up six years ago in the Royal Burgh of Newburgh in north-east Fife. Activities include the picking and local sale of fruit from the private orchards, demonstrations of tree pruning and fruit recipes. It is also working with local children, teachers and parents to establish a school orchard adjacent to a local primary school. The children planted and care for the trees and the space is used as an outdoor classroom, providing opportunities for a broad range of activities that link to the Scottish 5-14 curriculum, including maths, science, art, people & places, and environmental studies. The orchard is also used by parents while waiting to collect children from school, for open-air events, and the area and fruit is freely available to the local community. [Website ]
Glasgow Children’s Orchard
In 2005/6 100 apple trees were planted by children within the Learning Community in 40 sites, including schools, nurseries, hospitals and community gardens. Various events take place throughout the year including a Healthy Eating event and an Apple Fair. Funds from these events enable the purchase of more fruit trees for planting within the community. [Website ]. See also the Commonwealth Orchard project [Website].
Carse of Gowrie Orchard Project
The Tayside Biodiversity Partnership, with the Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust and the Forestry Commission is leading a new project in the Carse of Gawrie. The project aims to find out more about the areas ancient orchard heritage and explore opportunities for restoring and making better use these important areas. The first phase of this work was a survey to determine the presence, condition and extent of the orchards in the area. This was recently completed and the results announced at a seminar in Inchture in October 2007. The seminar was well attended with positive feedback and a good deal of support from local people for actions to conserve and develop the areas orchards. The project is now moving into it’s second phase, beginning with an informal workshop which was held in December 07 to discuss the next steps. [Website ]
Fife Orchards Project
The Fife Coast and Countryside Trust is working with partners such as the Newburgh Orchard Group, The National Trust, and local volunteers and small businesses to deliver a range of activities aimed at establishing a thriving local orchard network. [Website]
The Orchard Development Group (Borders)
The Orchard Development Group (Borders) is a recently formed initiative that aims to support and promote the restoration and maintenance of orchards in the Scottish Borders. Over the last year they have been working with the community to restore Crailing Orchard, an old orchard that had been neglected for decades by its tenant. The group was able to persuade the owner of the orchard, Lothian Estates, to enter into a 10-year lease and management agreement with Borders Forest Trust to restore the orchard to its former glory. [Website]
Scottish Orchards is a grassroots networking organisation bringing together fruit growers, pickers and enthusiasts, community groups, food co-ops, councils, landowners, children, businesses, government agencies and all others with an interest in creating a Fruitful Scotland, and also creating a market for locally grown Scottish fruit. Membership is open to anyone who wishes to contribute to the aims of the organisation. It is Chaired by John Hancox, with John Butterworth as Patron. Joining up forms and details from www.scottishorchards.com
Forth Valley Orchard Group
A group which developed from the successful mapping and feasibility phase of the Forth Valley Regeneration Initiative. [see Forth Valley Food Links]
The Commonwealth Orchard
The Commonwealth Orchard, is a social enterprise led by John Hancox, who started the Children’s Orchard at Glasgow Botanic Gardens and has now rolled this out as a growing project across Scotland. The idea is to create a lasting legacy of orchards across Scotland. The Commonwealth Orchard has received Scottish Government funding to deliver the Fruitful Schools project, www.fruitfulschools.com which is working with a number of school across Scotland including some schools in South Lanarkshire. See www.commonwealthorchard.com
Orchards – UK
Apple Day is an annual celebration of traditional orchards held on, or around, 21st October every year throughout the UK. Launched by Common Ground in 1999, it is a focus for activities organised by community groups, schools & colleges, environmental agencies & trusts, shops, restaurants and horticultural societies. It has rapidly gained in popularity and by 1999 there were over 600 events around the country. Find out more about Apple Day from the Common Ground website.
In 2007, Traditional Orchards were designated a ‘priority habitat’ under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), having been recognised for their value as a wildlife habitat. In response to this, a group of organisations was formed to establish and deliver a Habitat Action Plan for Traditional Orchards. The group is jointly led by the National Trust and Natural England and is collectively known as the Orchard Network.
There are a large number of active orchard groups in the UK, particuarly in England. The organisation Common Ground provides a good deal of information on these groups and on orchards generally . See their website.