Orchard Origins was launched in 2012 with a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme. This initial funding helped the project get off the ground.
In 2014, Orchard Origins became a Community Interest Company, or CIC, wholly owned by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. This means we could now trade as a business. As a CIC, all our assets and any profits we made had to benefit the social and environmental aims of the company.
In 2017 Orchard Origins stopped being a CIC and merged back into the Trust. We are now a long-running project, aiming to become completely self-sustaining and non reliant on grants.
Beyond our environmental and social aims our objectives include becoming a source of financial support to the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
Herefordshire has more traditional orchards than any other county, but like orchards everywhere they are constantly under threat from housing development, more intensive farming methods and neglect.
Traditional orchards provide an important refuge for a wide range of wildlife including a number of species that are conservation priorities such as the lesser-spotted woodpecker, dormouse, noble chafer beetle and the mistletoe marble moth. In 2007, they were designated as a priority habitat in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Our aim is to help conserve these vulnerable habitats for the long-term by providing an orchard maintenance service, skills training and education.
Research shows that supporting people to be active outdoors benefits their mental wellbeing.
Orchard Origins works with volunteers from all backgrounds, but it actively encourages and supports people who have mental health issues. Working with Herefordshire Mind, the charity for better mental health, Orchard Origins has been training volunteers in different aspects of orchard management. Each week the team put what they have learnt into practice in the orchards.
At present Orchard Origins is providing pruning and juicing courses to people with economic difficulties, through the Building Better Opportunities programme (lead by Landau and in partnership with 12 other organizations).
“There’s no pressure on you when you’re there, that helps a lot………..the other volunteers help too, over the day you feel better.” Herefordshire Mind Volunteer
According to the feedback from volunteers, a day working in the orchard has a positive affect on their health and their sense of wellbeing. It’s not just about physical activity, there’s also the satisfaction gained from being involved in something worthwhile. Transforming a sad, neglected collection of trees back into a healthy, productive orchard can be very fulfilling and produce a real sense of achievement.