This publication aims to help orchard projects by supporting practitioners and local communities to enhance, protect and celebrate orchards.
The orchard heritage organisation Common Ground calculates that, since 1950, nearly two thirds of England's orchard area has been destroyed. In some counties, the tally is even more striking - Devon has lost 90% and Kent over 80% since the 1960s. This is largely attributed to land development for other uses such as housing, the lack of legal protection for orchards, and commercial pressures on farmers to produce more profitable crops, alongside competition from cheap imports.
Orchards are like many-faceted jewels that connect us to our heritage, a plethora of wildlife and fruit varieties, and wonderful opportunities to enjoy traditional agricultural landscapes and customs.
Managed appropriately, even in a time of highly competitive food marketing, orchards can bring economic benefits to local communities, especially when they build on distinctive characteristics and provenance to build customer interest and support.
Research for this good practice guide revealed that traditional and smaller orchards can be restored and conserved, but this needs considerable enthusiasm, community and other support, and not least, creativity. We can also learn from other European countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany, where vineyards, olive groves and fruit and nut orchards are still important and prominent aspects of the landscape, culture, gastronomy and economy, and receive legal and marketing support from regional and national authorities.
During 2006 and 2007 Sustain; the alliance for better food and farming worked with Leader+ to develop an Orchard Co-operation Project to bring together experience from sustainably managing orchards in six Leader+ areas: Herefordshire Rivers; Somerset Levels & Moors; Teignbridge; North West Devon; Mid Kent Downs; and Cumbria Fells & Dales.
The Orchard Co-operation Project culminated in production of this good practice guide for orchard project management. Its purpose is to help current and future orchard projects, supporting practitioners and local communities in enhancing and protecting orchards. It focuses on setting up and running orchard projects, giving practical advice on project-management issues such as setting objectives, fundraising, good communications and measuring successes, and finally explores possible challenges for the future. It draws on many successful examples of Leader+ and similar projects, and other orchard-related activities around the UK and elsewhere. We hope that this good practice guide will inform and inspire orchard enthusiasts everywhere, to take practical action to conserve our orchard heritage for the enjoyment of generations to come.
"The finished (report) is absolutely fantastic, a great balance of enough information to make it really useful but not so much as to make it cumbersome or hard to navigate. We've had really good feedback from people who have seen it so far".
Dawn Turner Programme Manager at Herefordshire Leader+
Chapter 1: Introduction
- Traditional orchards are under threat
- How can orchard projects help reverse this trend?
- Background to the Orchard Co-operation Project
Chapter 2: Finding out more about your orchard
Orchard history, heritage and culture
- The importance of history and heritage
- Orchard heritage and how to research it
- Orchards and archaeology
Orchards, wildlife and crop diversity
- Crop diversity
- The significance of orchards
- Protecting orchards from development
- Why is mapping important?
- Useful mapping advice
- The financial value of orchard products
Chapter 3: Exploiting the many benefits of orchards
- Running courses to promote orchard skills
- Taking training a stage further
- Working with schools
- Integrating orchards into the school curriculum
- Orchards and healthy eating in schools
- Raising awareness through arts and theatre
- Community orchards
- Health and the wider community
- Community food projects
- Amenity and public access
Restoring and safeguarding biodiversity and landscape
- Promoting genetic diversity
- Official designations that aid conservation
- Orchard management guidance
Creating a thriving local economy
- Adding value
- Buying fruit processing equipment
- Foods and branding linked to 'landscape character'
- ‘Protected Name’ schemes
- Exploring different outlets for produce
- More ways to gain support for local orchard produce
- More than fruit and nuts
- Attracting orchard tourists
- Hiring out orchard space to generate income
- ‘Sponsor a Tree’ schemes and crop sharing
- What type of business?
Chapter 4: Attracting funding and other support
Issues to consider and sources of funding
- Funds from the public
- European, national, regional and local support
- Charitable trusts and foundations
- The National Lottery
- Support from local businesses
- Measuring success
The importance of good communications
- Events and festivals
- Engaging the community
- Interpretation for visitors
- Generating media support
- Starting a campaign
Chapter 5: Looking to the Future…
- Appendix 1: Business plans and funding applications
- Appendix 2: Traditional Orchards in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan
- Appendix 3: Contacts and useful information
Protecting our Orchard Heritage - a good practice guide for managing orchard projects
ISBN: 978-1-903060-46-9 128pp - 2008 | 4810Kb
Published 1 Feb 2008
Orchards Project: During 2006 and 2007, Sustain worked on a national orchard project with Leader+ (European Union funded programme of rural development) to conserve and bring into sustainable management traditional orchards in 6 Leader+ funded areas: Hereford Rivers; Somerset Levels & Moors; Teinbridge; North West Devon; Mid Kent, and Cumbria Fells & Dales.