Little Owl boxes (re)installed at Longney

The Little Owl boxes in our Longney Orchards have now all been erected in trees around the site, including the box whose original tree fell in strong winds earlier this year.

The boxes, kindly donated by the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group, were mounted on fruit trees and a pollarded willow at GOT’s Longney Orchards.

Thanks to Stuart and Pete who installed them all and to John Fletcher who advised on locations. They are level, even though they may not look so in the pictures!

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Enjoying Longney’s apples

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A couple of pictures from Tobias Reynolds, an award winning Gloucester-based photographer, showing his wife and baby enjoying the apple crop at Longney.  Right-click the images to open full size in a new tab.

For more on Tobias’ work visit his website www.moochuk.com

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Topping under the trees at Longney

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Much of the orchard at Longney has been grazed this year but there’s still a need to cut some of the site.

As these pictures show the shepherd has recently made a very good start on topping with their own tractor (New Holland with a Rhino 3-bladed topper).

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Apple Day, 21st October

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It’s Apple Day, as usual, on 21st October!

National Apple Day was launched in 1990 by Common Ground. Their aspiration was to create a calendar custom, an autumn holiday. From the start, Apple Day was intended to be both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape, ecology and culture too. It has also played a part in raising awareness in the provenance and traceability of food.

The concept has become incredibly successful over the 30 years since – with events taking place all over the country organised by local orchard and apple groups, across a range of dates throughout October.  The Covid restrictions this year mean that there are rather fewer events than usual but some are still taking place and, if there are none near you, you can always celebrate at a local level in your own garden!

https://ptes.org/campaigns/traditional-orchard-project/orchard-network/apple-day/

https://www.commonground.org.uk/apple-day/

 

Harvesting at Longney

posted in: apples, harvest, Juice, orchard | 0
Picking Kingston Black at Longney

The Longney harvest is shared between several juicing and cider makers – including long-standing GOT supporters from both Days Cottage and Trust Juice.

 

These pictures are from Helen at Days Cottage, showing some of their harvest work a week or so ago:

 



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Creative Sustainability’s Longney Camp 2020

Here’s an inspiring report on this year’s Longney Orchard camp from the Creative Sustainability organisation. This local Community Interest Company organise (amongst many other things) camping weekends and day camps for disadvantaged young people, including disabled, refugees and asylum seekers.

Most of their camping programme had to be cancelled this year because of the Covid restrictions so the Longney event was particularly important this time.

Some quotes from the report:

‘I haven’t been into the countryside since I came to England, I don’t know where to go, whether I am welcome or safe or whether I have permission, or where I can walk’

‘This is the first sunset I’ve seen since coming to England’

‘..I found myself daydreaming of home before it became unsafe, for the first time. Normally I have nightmares. It’s being here at the orchard. It’s so peaceful – I slept well.’

‘I can see my home all around…(he pointed around the orchard as he spoke) these fruit trees, some crops, the muddy track, homes where my family, friends, aunties and uncles live, someone sleeping under the trees, the smell of cooking, goats here, chickens over there, camels and cows here’

‘It made me remember to live’

You can read the full report below or click here to download it. For more information on Creative Sustainability click here.

Click to access Report-for-Orchard-Trust.pdf

 

Celebration of Apples at Rockness Orchard  

posted in: apples, Juice, orchard, volunteers | 0

The Rockness Orchard Group had a very successful socially-distanced juicing day on 12th September.   The weather was kind and four groups of people took up five slots on the day (one group had a double slot).

Lots of credit to Fiona, who mobilised a number of local people into collaborating and participating in the day.

Pictures and words from Joy Way

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DNA Fingerprinting update – a review and update

posted in: apples, dna, identification, varieties | 0

Ainsleigh Rice from the Marcher Apple Network has recently written a very interesting and useful review of the DNA Fingerprinting initiative for us.

He explains how DNA fingerprinting can work, using marker pairs of DNA sequences, and gives some examples.  It’s complicated – you will need to concentrate!  And he goes on to discuss what this can (or cannot) tell us about each variety’s parentage.

The full text – as a pdf – can be read below or downloaded via this link.

Click to access Malus-Parentage-from-DNA-for-GOT-15Sep20.pdf

Another Update to Apples of Gloucestershire

Jim Chapman has produced another update to the summary of how the DNA project has changed our understanding of our local apple varieties.

The new version has sorted out references to the National Fruit Collection and the Register of Local Cultivars, but also includes a few minor corrections.

The new Apple document, dated July 2020 is available here.

The most recent equivalent for Pears, dated December 2019, is available here.

For more information on all this research click here.

Heritage orchards for sale – at Saycells Farm, Kempley, Gloucestershire

Update July 27th:   Good news – we understand that the house and orchards were purchased by a private buyer sympathetic to orchard conservation.

Here’s an opportunity for someone – or some organisation – to acquire and save nearly 30 acres of traditional orchard – with an option on a recently derelict (fire-damaged) farmhouse and yard too. The site is being offered in 4 lots at auction on 22nd July.

The location is Saycells Farm, once a significant player in our local orchard history.  Positioned just inside Gloucestershire but along the border with Herefordshire it is very close to the cider-making village of Much Marcle, where Westons Cider are based today.  But, back in the 19th Century, Saycells itself supported a cider and perry business as big as, possibly larger than, Westons.  The remaining traditional standard orchards – about 29 acres in total – reflect that legacy.

The land within the orchard lots also includes a rare parcel of flower-rich old grassland.  The orchards, and the grassland, are local and national biodiversity conservation priority habitats, so the wildlife value – and potential – is huge.  Maintaining the continuity of these habitats is completely compatible with reinstating fruit production and suitable grazing, so there is of course significant production potential too. There is also, sadly, a possibility of a new owner not wanting the orchards.

GOT is working with other groups and individuals to highlight the orchard value of the site – and we hope to galvanise the interest of persons wishing to own and care for this important conservation asset. We feel this is the surest way of avoiding the loss and damage that may follow a sale to persons not so motivated. There is a well-established local community orchard group – The Big Apple – very close by in Much Marcle who could support a new owner make a success the acquisition.

More details and links are below – but do get in touch with GOT or others if you want some advice – we can put you in touch with local orchard owners, some on adjoining farms, who can help explain the possibilities and potential.

Location:  Postcode HR8 2NP, gridref SO663312 – see map extract above.

 

The Auction details:

Saycells Farm is for sale at auction via HJ Pugh & Co, unless previously sold, at The Hazle Meadows Auction Centre, Ross Road, HR8 2LP on Wednesday 22nd July 2020 at 6.30pm.

Sale details are online at http://www.hjpugh.co.uk/full-details.php?id=2810&farm-much-marcle-ledbury-herefordshire-ledbury

There is also a pdf brochure available here:  http://images.portalimages.com/24206/29684739/brochure/s1/637268616575672537/33468ef07ed4d7bb6a6e022a6890d7fadb2d8357.pdf

The sale lots are (see map below right):

  • Lot 1 – derelict house, outbuildings and land of 10.3 acres which includes old traditional standard perry pear orchards with excellent vintage varieties including Blakeney Red, Brandy, Moorcroft and Thorn;
  • Lot 2 – traditional standard cider apple orchards (with a few standard perry pears) and permanent pasture alongside Kempley Road of 12.9 acres, which contains abundant wild daffodils. The mature fruit trees have a lot of dead wood = fabulous for bugs and birds;
  • Lot 3 – relict traditional standard perry pear orchard with species-rich, semi-natural neutral grassland of 6.27 acres (and an adjacent improved pasture of 14.75 acres) on north side of lane to St Mary’s Kempley – among which are 2 x Gregg’s Pit perry pear trees a rare variety.
  • Lot 4 – mixed secondary native broadleaved woodland and fishing pools of 37.45 acres with abundant Common Spotted Orchids along the rides and adjacent to the lakes; good stands of Yellow Flag, Water Mint, Marsh Thistle and Wild Angelica at the lake margins, and mature standard oaks and at least one mature yew tree within the secondary woodland plantation, as well as numerous mature standard oak and ash trees alongside the Kempley Road.

 

 

(Words from Mark July adapted by Jonathan Briggs)

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