Orchard Origin volunteers have been giving the Hereford Community Farm a helping hand to settle in to its new home at Warham Court Farm at Breinton. Set up in 2007 to provide a range of supported therapeutic activities in the natural environment, the Community Farm has ambitious plans for its new site including a farm shop and tea room.
We have been invited to help with the two orchards. About 9 acres in all, the orchards are not large enough to be commercially viable but still crop well.
The orchards are mainly planted with cider and dessert apples, both traditional and a few newer varieties, but they also include a number of magnificent perry trees.
Historical records take Warham Court Farm back to the medieval period, but the orchards – more extensive than they are now – first appear on the 1830 tithe map. When we walked around them with Marcus, the farm manager, we were delighted to find plenty of evidence of veteran tree features such as hollowing, rot-holes and standing dead wood.
These features, which are rarely found on younger trees, provide fantastic habitats for many species of wildlife and fungi. According to Marcus, Tawny, Little Owls and woodpeckers are all regularly seen in the orchard.
In a few months time, once the harvest is out of the way, we will do a full survey of both orchards and hopefully learn more about their history and the condition of the trees growing in them.
If you would like to have a walk around them and find out more about what we do you will find us at the Hereford Community Farm Open Day on Saturday October 19th. This event, which will be held in and around the orchards, ties in with the Hereford Cider Museum Cider Making Weekend and the final day of H Energy Week. Big Skill will also be there demonstrating a range of traditional and rural skills.