Orchard Revival was at Monimail Tower Project in Fife helping with the Monimail Apple Day on 20th Oct. Thanks also to Will from Tayport Community Trust’s PLANT project for running the press this year.
BBC piece on the Orchard Inventory here in bitsize chunks
Clips from Good Morning Scotland on 7th October 2018
Crispin (Inventory Coordinator) on some of the historical background to orchards in Scotland, how the Orchard Inventory was carried out, and hopes of an orchard revival.
Sue Pomeroy (Local Facilitator for the Inventory in the West Highlands) on remote orchards surveyed and crofting interest in fruit trees
Kate Holl (SNH Project Officer for Inventory) on biodiversity and benefits of orchards
Ron Gillies ( Cairn o’Mhor Winery) on making King Jimmy cider
Kate on different fruit and nuts grown in orchards
Ron with a guileful plug for his cider – how far apart to plant your trees
All clips copyright BBC 2018
The National Orchard Inventory for Scotland featured on Good Morning Scotland
Bill Whiteford interviewed Crispin (Inventory Coordinator) and then Bill along with Isabel Fraser had a discussion with Kate Holl (SNH, funder), Sue Pomeroy (Local Facilitator for the Inventory in the West Highlands), and Ron Gillies (Cairn o’Mhor Winery).
Here’s the whole 29 minute piece broadcast on 7th October 2018. More recent posts have selected excerpts.
Or download it here
Orchard Inventory on BBC Radio Scotland 7oct18
Audio recording copyright BBC 2018
Great response from Orchard Inventory feature on BBC website
People have been contacting us from people across Scotland to the feature on the Beeb website
Some wanted to ensure their orchard has been included, and others to volunteer for survey work. A few have been seeking advice about varieties and planning new orchards. We’re working through those now so we get back to everyone.
We worked with a BBC journalist to develop the piece, and to try and include as much of interest as possible from what the Inventory found . Of course the full story is contained in the Area Reports which are available to download. However the piece gives a good overview and its gets to a very wide audience. That has to be good for raising awareness about orchards in Scotland.
How can traditional management of the orchard floor and other hay meadows improve biodiversity?
ORE Director Crispin Hayes travelled to Romania on an Erasmus + Study Tour looking at sustainable village agriculture. In this piece he relates his experiences.
Haymaking is widespread in Alba County both in the hill & mountain villages and throughout the flat low lands of Transylvania. Orchards are also widespread though tended to be concentrated around villages. In the south and centre of Alba County, plums dominated the orchards. The plums are made into Rakia, the local spirit drunk anytime from breakfast to bedtime. This spirit is home produced and is a cultural indicator of the characters involved. When aged for 20 yrs in a mulberry cask or blended with homemade walnut cordial, it is a very smooth and enjoyable drink.
In the north of Alba County for example around Rimetea, apple orchards were very much in evidence. The wider area also grows a lot of grapes which are made into wine which has a good reputation.
Lots of invertebrate life
The biodiverse content of these species rich grasslands is discussed elsewhere, the focus here is management which provides the conditions for this species richness, and for the abundance of invertebrate life. These orchard pastures and hay meadows appeared to be almost entirely managed by traditional methods; that is to say cut by scythe and the hay stacked on a traditional triangular frame or steddle, often in the field.
Use of the scythe
We engaged in mowing by scythe in Girbovita village near Aiud. The location was a hay meadow above the village which we arrived at after walking through an orchard. The sward was herb dominated rather than grass dominated. We joined the farmer with some extra scythes and were given a brief demonstration before having a go ourselves. It took some practice but it was possible to quickly cut a swath of grass.
In the experienced hands of the farmer, a clean and consistent cut about 40mm about the ground was made. The width of cut was more than 1.5m and the cutting action creates a swath at the left-hand edge of cut. Progress is at an incremental walk, but because the cut is wide the ground is covered at a good rate.
On another occasion, we went to rake a small very steep meadow surrounded by woodland. It was planted with young walnut trees as a new orchard. This location really emphasised the versatility of the scythe. The steepness and the young walnuts would have made it impossible to use even pedestrian machinery. However, with hand tools it was fairly quick work.
What was surprising was not that scythe cut hay was normal in the hill villages, but that scythes were widely used in the flat wide plains as well. In these lowlands, there is ‘pre-enclosure’ landscape of strips showing a complex landownership. Though it was clear that some tractors were used to mow and bale hay, the majority of hay even in this mechanisable landscape, was still cut and handled by hand. This perhaps indicates the depth of cultural significance that the scythe holds for rural Romanians.
Reflection on motor mowers vs the scythe
The Romanian experience has led to a great deal of reflection on how hay, orchards, amenity grassland, ‘rough grass’ and agricultural set aside is managed in Britain. The tendency to use rotary mowers and in the agricultural setting mower conditioners, must have an impact on invertebrate life. In Romania, we were able to experience what is possible with grassland management when it is more sympathetic to biodiversity. It has been enlightening.
Crispin took artist Jyll Bradley on an orchard tour of Fife and the Carse of Gowrie orchards recently. We took in various walled gardens, mature domestic orchards as well as the field scale former commercial orchards of the Carse. Jyll is researching for an installation at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh in 2019. We included a couple of other sites by the River Tay that are linked its role for transport and the monastic influence so vital to the development of orchards.
Pictured are Jyll with Head Gardener Graham at the 1780 peach house of a private walled garden. Peaches and nectarines are still being grown today !
What to do with those old variety pears that tend to be left on the tree ? Use them – they are fantastic! Varieties like Hessle, which have a small fruit, but there are a lot of them on a tree. Pick them and dry them in the pear equivalent of apple rings. Only they aren’t a ring as they don’t need coring.
Picking time is crucial: Picking the old varieties of pear at the right time is a trick. Don’t wait for them to be ‘ripe’ as you would a more modern variety of table pear. If you wait, the centre will typically be rotten. Pick before that stage when they have become sweet but are still crunchy.
Just slice them up (about 5mm thick slices). The picture shows a dehydrator rack (which is essentially a low temp fan oven) but you can do this in your own electric fan oven at its lowest temp, or on a cake rack over a fire or radiator. It takes about 12 hours in a dehydrator/oven, longer with other methods.
Once dry, put in an airtight jar and they will last for months – but only if you hide the jar or lock it. Otherwise they only last a few weeks because they are so bloomin’ tasty !
We are currently seeking individuals who would like to take up the roles of Local Facilitators (in their area). This is a part-time role running from July through to November.
The role in involves working with a local collaborating organisation – which could be a development trust, orchard group, or similar not-for-profit body – and organising volunteers to undertake the orchard survey work across your local area. The graphic here shows the projects structure and where Local Facilitators fit in.
We provide all the material resources and methods – it all set up. The Local Facilitator facilitates the action on the ground in their area.
If you are interested in the role, fill in the Volunteering Form but state in the last comment box that you want to be a Local Facilitator and tell us any additional details you think would be useful. We’ll get back to you. Thanks
We’ve also got a great job opportunity for an enthusiastic person to help encourage and support local groups that are collaborating in the orchard inventory project. Its part-time, one day a week and runs for six months starting June.
Social media and some wordpress skills are needed too.
See Jobs page
Closing date 31st May 2016.