As you all likely know we at Down to Earth love the fruit, especially the local fruit! So much so that it is our mission to do all we can to increase access to local fruit (and nuts), while doing that also fulfilling another mission of ours – reducing local food waste and increasing local food security!

When researching for our Fruit and Nut Tree Guardianship Scheme we discovered  a few surprising facts. One being that 95% of fruit sold in Britain is imported! This number seemed insane to us especially considering another fact –  in Gloucestershire alone there are over 100 apple varieties and in Britain over 6000 (and that’s just the apples). Well, here is a third fact for you – Over the last 50 years there has been a great decline in orchards. Apparently this decline has now been halted but we still have much work to do getting those numbers back up.

Over more recent years there has been an increase in community orchards and we at Down to earth would like to support this hopefully ongoing trend in Gloucestershire. We have just come across a new initiative from the Community Land Advisory Service and have decided to follow their lead and help people within our community develop more of these traditional orchards.

As you know we have over the past few years developed a thriving Community Allotment from disused land up at Selsley. We and the local community have gotten so much out of this venture that we would love to be able to take the skills and insight gained and use them to help develop other community growing spaces. Helping to develop more traditional orchards seems the perfect step forward for us; combining experience from our two main projects –  Selsley Community Allotment and Fruit and Nut Tree Guardianship Scheme.

So, what exactly will we be offering those wishing to develop an orchard?

– Support for anyone interested in developing an existing orchard.

– Support if some land is found that might be able to become a new community orchard (we can help find out  who it belongs to, whether it can be used for community use and  work through any legalities).

– Support with finding funding, sourcing trees and advice and guidance on how to look after them and how to set up a community orchard group to run it.

Please get in touch if you have found land, would like to look for land, or are just interested generally in supporting the growth of traditional orchards. We would love to hear from you. Traditional orchards have a rich and vital history, bringing more back to life will not only be great for the land but great for our communities too.

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