We decided a blog was a fitting way to celebrate our first anniversary and help spread the word about what we are getting up to at Orchard Origins.
So what is Orchard Origins all about?
Our main aim is to help with the conservation of Herefordshire’s traditional orchards and raise awareness of their vital importance as wildlife habitats. So one of our key aims is to provide training to the general public in wildlife-friendly orchard maintenance and, through the volunteer programme, give people opportunities to put those skills in to practice.
The Herefordshire Nature Trust, through its partnership with Herefordshire Mind, realised that the project also had the potential to help people who suffer with mental distress by providing them with an opportunity to learn new skills and benefit from working outdoors in a friendly, supportive environment.
Initial funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, has got us up and running but our grand plan is to establish a social enterprise so that Orchard Origins is financially self-sufficient. This income will be generated by selling products made from the fruit we harvest.
Last year we trialled a small range of produce, mainly jams, chutneys and traditional sweets, made from the fruit picked from the orchards under the stewardship of the Herefordshire Nature Trust and from a few private orchards. Our produce was sold at local farmers’ markets and received some very positive feedback from our customers.
During the year we have been busy forming new partnerships with orchard owners across the county who, in recognition of our help with maintenance and fruit picking, are donating their crop. This means that in the Autumn, with access to more fruit, we will be able to expand our product range to include apple juices, perry and cider.
As all the signs are for a good crop this year, we are currently gearing up for a very busy harvest.
We hope you will enjoy reading about what we get up to over the coming months and we look forward to reading your comments and ideas. Perhaps our blog will even inspire you to join us in the orchards or in our kitchen. We are always keen to welcome new volunteers.