Ein Coed – the launch of Pembrokeshire’s fruit and nut tree-sharing movement
For many years, across Wales and the UK, people have swapped and shared seeds and cuttings of vegetables and plants, to grow those plants in their own allotments and gardens.
Often, the seeds swapped have been the plants that do well in the area they’re being swapped in.
If Myfanwy’s cabbages did well in Brynberian last year, it makes sense to get hold of some of Myfanwy’s cabbage seeds! Especially if you live nearby.
If Ewan’s rose’s always put up a good show, you might want to get a cutting and grow it yourself. Although if one of the varieties he grows always looks a bit weak, you’d maybe give that one a miss.
Ein Coed – Tree Swapping
The same principle can apply to our fruit and nut trees. In the gardens, allotments, smallholdings and farms of Pembrokeshire, thousands of fruit and nut trees are already growing.
Apples, of course, but also pears, damsons, walnuts, plums, sweet chestnuts, cherries, hazels, sea buckthorns, autumn olive and much, much more.
Of all of these trees, like in Myfanwy’s and Ewan’s plots, some grow better than others. The ones that do well enjoy the milder climate, don’t mind the wetter winters and can maybe withstand the tree diseases that are more common around here. Or they are the ones that manage to thrive in the long periods of summer drought winds that we see more of nowadays.
These trees – the ones that are suited to our conditions and that can take a bit of fluctuation in climate - are the ones that are best to grow here in West Wales.
And it makes just as much sense to swap these as it does Myfanwy’s seeds and Ewan’s roses.
CARE has launched a network to do just that. It’s called “Ein Coed”, which means “Our Trees” in English.
It’s a network that exists to help people to find and swap varieties of fruit and nut trees that do well here. All for free.
To make sure that there is a fantastic selection available, CARE’s Fruit and Bounty project is planting five brand new “Mother Orchards” across Pembrokeshire. They’re based at Scolton Manor, Roch, Llangolman, Boncath, Cardigan and Hebron. Each one of these exists purely so that the public can access a collection of fruit and nut trees for cuttings.
The Mother Orchards will be the county’s collection of varieties of fruit and nut trees that are best suited to our climate here. And all the trees have been carefully selected as being well-suited to the area.
We plant them in winter 2023 (and we’ll be looking for volunteers to help with the planting, so watch this space!). They will get their roots in the ground and should be ready to start offering cuttings in a couple of years. A sixth forest garden Mother Orchard in Cardigan area is already mature though, and ready to offer cuttings.
Getting involved – it’s all free
There is no reason to wait though. Ein Coed is about more than the six official “Mother Orchards” - it’s an idea.
Anyone with trees can offer cuttings (or seeds where appropriate). Anyone that wants varieties can request them. When there’s a match, you arrange to do a swap.
To join in, for free, you just need to join the Ein Coed Facebook group that’s been created to facilitate exchanges.
All swaps must be for free – that’s one of the rules. The whole enterprise is about cooperation, sharing, kindness and tree-enthusiasm. No one exchanges money, no one makes any money. But we all benefit.
Swapping cuttings, rather than seeds
As a result of generations of clever human fruit cultivation, many fruit and nut tree seeds, like apple seeds for example, have genes from several different varieties of apple in them. If you plant those seeds, they will often grow into a different variety to the one that you want.
So often, fruit and nut tree varieties are best swapped as cuttings, rather than seeds, so you can be sure of growing the variety you want.
You might grow those cuttings straight in compost, or by grafting them onto a “rootstock” which will help dictate the size of the tree you get.
If you’ve never grafted a tree before, fear not. Not only are there links to guidance on the Ein Coed, but we’re running workshops to show you how to graft, in February and March 2023.
Sometimes though you can just grow the cutting in compost and off you go.
If you’d like to learn how to prune, we’ll also be out in Scolton Manor and Narberth running pruning training (and collecting cuttings as we do it) in January and February 2023.
Get involved with Ein Coed
There is a fruit tree obsession in this country. I’ve been it time and again. It seems to be in our blood. So join in with Ein Coed, share and celebrate our glorious fruit and nut tree diversity, and together let’s turn the whole of Pembrokeshire into a Mother Orchard.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.