Regular readers of this blog and twitter account will be aware that Orchard Origins fully supported CAMRA’s call to parliament to appeal against an EU proposal to end the small cidermakers’ duty exemption, and in Tuesday’s budget George Osborne announced that it will be retained. This excellent news at it means that those of us who make fewer that 7,000 litres of cider per year remain exempt from paying duty. Continue reading
The lesser spotted woodpecker has had a long association with traditional orchards. Spring is the best time of year to catch sight of these rare little birds. Listen out for their distinctive drumming in the orchards and woodlands – a much slower and weaker rhythm than that of the great spotted woodpecker.
The lesser spotted is rarest of the three species of woodpecker regularly breeding in Britain. In the last decade, it has suffered an alarming population decline and is now a red-listed species meaning it is of conservation concern.
Cider has been produced on these shores for centuries – in fact longer than any other alcoholic drink. In the last decade, there has been a resurgence in cider-making with many small artisan producers entering the market. The National Association of Cider Makers estimates there are about 480 active cider and perry makers currently in the UK. An EU ruling could force many of the smaller operations to cease production. In its wake, it will also hasten the demise of our traditional orchards and the important natural habitats they support. Continue reading
Winter is a busy time in the orchard. Once the trees have entered dormancy, it is the perfect time to plant new bare root trees and do some formative and restorative pruning on apples and pears. It is also a wonderful time to enjoy the wildlife that venture into the orchards for food and shelter. The windfalls provide a valuable late food source for many birds and mammals. Continue reading
Orchard Origins is entering an exciting new phase as it becomes a Community Interest Company. We currently help maintain eleven acres of orchard owned and managed by the Herefordshire Nature Trust, as well as over twenty or so private orchards. Each week we are contacted by landowners who are keen to work with us. As we grow and take on further orchards, we are on the lookout for more volunteers. If you enjoy being outside and learning new skills or are just keen to understand more about Herefordshire’s orchard heritage why not come and join us? It’s a friendly and fun atmosphere with plenty of tea and coffee breaks.
The plum trees are in blossom. The delicate white flowers emerge before the leaves, but their appearance is fleeting. Ten days and they are gone. For the keen wild forager, now is the time to scour the local hedgerows and woodlands for the plum’s early flowering cousins, the damson, bullace and sloe. Their white blossom is equally ephemeral but at this time of year these wild and semi-wild plums are easy to spot in the hedgerows. Make a mental note of their location and return in the late summer to harvest the delicious fruit. Continue reading
According to research about 40% of us make New Year’s resolutions, but most of us will fail to keep them beyond the first month. Here are 5 simple promises that should be easy to fulfil and will benefit our orchards and wildlife. Continue reading