Creating Pembrokeshire’s “Mother Orchards”
Apples are not the only fruit!
There is something about apples. They seem to harbour something deep inside them that connects us to each other, to the land, to the seasons, to fruit and bounty. They make you feel good about life.
The sheer variety of them out there is evidence enough of our love for them. There are something like 7,000 cultivated varieties of apple across the world, at least 2,000 of which grow in the UK.
But we can’t live on apples alone. Or at least we shouldn’t, when there are hundreds more beautiful varieties of Pears, Damsons, Plums, Quinces, Medlars, Mulberries, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Elders all for the growing too. Tree crops to suit every palate.
West Wales can be soggy at times, as you may have spotted, and not every variety of these fruits and nuts is suited to growing here. Hundreds are though and our ambition at CARE is not only to grow them here, but to give everyone in the county access to this wonderful, rich variety of suitable fruit and nut trees.
So as part of CARE’s Fruit and Bounty project, we are planting Pembrokeshire “Mother Orchards” and creating a fruit and nut tree sharing network.
This winter we will plant at least four Mother Orchards in North Pembrokeshire, which together will host over 70 varieties of fruit and nut trees. Apples, Pears, Damsons, Walnuts, Chestnuts, Hazels and more. These orchards are "Mothers" because they will exist in order to provide free cuttings and seeds for anyone else that would like to grow those same varieties themselves.
We’ll show you where they are and which varieties are growing in each orchard. If you would like to grow any of these varieties yourself, for your garden, farm or community project, you will be able to contact the owner of that Mother Orchard to arrange to come and collect cuttings or seeds, to propagate your own tree of that variety, for free.
What we ask in return is that you consider offering out cuttings yourself in future as part of a wider “Fruit and Nut Tree variety bank."
This is where we expand out the sharing even further. Anyone with fruit or nut trees will be invited to offer cuttings of their trees to anyone else that would like to grow them. The more varieties on offer, for sharing across the county, the more variety will be on offer to us, to our stomachs and to the visiting wildlife. We'll explain how it all works in more detail soon.
We’ll be providing guidance online on how to propagate your own trees from these cuttings. We’re also organising pruning and grafting workshops in Winter 2022 and Spring 2023 to you can learn the basics in person.
We’ll also soon be planning planting events for the Mother Orchards so if you’d like to come along and help create this unique network of mother trees, keep an eye on our Facebook page. That’s also where you can find details of our pruning and grafting workshops and other fruit and bounty themed projects.
Written by Neil Kingsnorth, Fruit and Bounty