Longney Pruning Workshops, February and March 2022

Martin Hayes is leading a series of informal pruning workshops at GOT’s lovely Longney Orchard (south of Gloucester by the River Severn).

These are for GOT members only.   Cost will be £10 per head.

Please book one session (booking essential) through Ann Smith ann@smithcovell.co.uk who can advise on payment methods.  You can also pay via this PayPal button:


If you pay by PayPal please also email Ann with details of which session you’re booking.

Dates: Mondays 14 February, 7 March, 14 March.  Noon-3pm

Martin will go through Health and Safety and we would need everyone to sign in with an emergency contact phone number please. Bring own tools, gloves and boots. Martin is very knowledgeable and there’s always something to learn and share. Stone fruit will not be pruned – only May to September on dry days for plums and cherries to reduce the chance of silver leaf disease.

We look forward to seeing you! If you are not a member and would like to attend, please join GOT at https://glosorchards.org/home/join-us-got-membership/

If you are a community orchard group you get a year’s free membership. Please enquire via Ann.

 

 

New Traditional Orchard at Wallsworth Hall- fruitful collaboration in action!

Wallsworth Hall, an imposing C18 house, just north of Gloucester at Twigworth, is home to one of the UK’s most important national charities promoting conservation through the medium of art – in all its many forms. Established in 1988, Nature in Art (N in A) is now a unique centre, with an expanding membership and visitor base.  It is dedicated, among other aims, to show how the visual and aesthetic qualities of art can help support ecology and encourage participation in realising common objectives.

The large garden area surrounding Wallsworth Hall provides space for many sculptures and a site for a busy Education Centre with outreach work with schools, art groups and visiting artists in residence. The garden is also very popular with visitors, with circular walks and picnic places, and it has an excellent range of wildlife. However, the far end of the garden had been left largely untouched and had become overgrown and inaccessible.  N in A’s Trustees decided to restore this area – of around a 1/4 acre – by establishing a small orchard of local varieties of apples to supplement some older fruit trees around the partially walled boundary.

Following enquiries from N in A’s staff, contact with the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT) was made which led to discussions on how plans for the new orchard could be made and put in train. GOT (and N in A) member Keith Turner agreed to collaborate with N in A Director Simon Trapnell and the Education Officer Catherine Bunn in drawing up practical plans. These included using N in A volunteers first, to clear, by hand, the area of its jungle of briars, nettles and invasive elder; and then to prepare the new area for planting up to 15 fruit trees, mainly apples. The emphasis would be on heritage varieties – a mixture of culinary, cider and dessert types, which would be sourced from GOT member Rob Watkins’ Lodge Farm Trees nursery near Berkeley.  A mix of native grass and wildflower seed will be broadcast under the trees to augment the existing flora and so form a natural sward under the trees for wildlife conservation, especially habitat for bees, butterflies and moths.

Sufficient ground was ready by autumn 2019 for the first trees to be planted, but continued wet conditions delayed planting until early 2020. These trees soon established and made good growth in 2020. Meanwhile, the remainder of the area was prepared for clearing and planting which took place the following winter.  Consisting of grafts on M25, MM106 and MM111 rootstocks, all were local Gloucestershire or regional Three Counties varieties/cultivars. Examples include Ashmeads Kernel, Longney Russet, Arlingham Schoolboy, Yellow Willy etc.  One perry pear has also been included in the mix for a special spot in the new orchard.

The plantings were completed in early 2021 with a total of 16 trees well established, but leaving a legacy of further work by N in A volunteers to maintain the new orchard over the next few years. There was, very likely, an earlier orchard at Wallsworth Hall which would have provided fruit for the house and its residents. So it’s very satisfying that the new trees will restore these links and again be part of the future history of this lovely house.

Keith Turner  6/1/22

More information on Nature in Art: Located at Twigworth off the A38, near Gloucester GL2 9PA.  https://natureinart.org.uk/

Government Cider Tax Consultation – a risk to Traditional Orchards

This has been a hot topic in the cider and perry community since the budget and has caused understandable anxiety for smaller scale producers.

The issue is whether there will be changes to the existing 70hL (7000l) cider exemption from taxation.  This tax relief has helped conserve orchards, encourage small cider and perry makers (and has saved HMRC a great deal of administration!).

Any changes to that exemption could make small scale production uneconomic – which would have knock-on effects for traditional orchards.

Several GOT committee members who make cider and perry have lobbied their MPs to urge them to keep the system unchanged (ie tax low and paperwork simple).

The Government has issued a consultation paper – with responses required this month (January 2022).

GOT intends lobbying on behalf of cider producers and for the well-being of traditional orchards.

If you are able to write to your MP or complete the consultation, please let us know.

Do note that the consultation, as it stands, advocates no change to the current cut-off and a streamlining of the ‘cliff-edge’ if/when small producers pass the cut-off – see wording from paragraph 4.37 in the consultation (reproduced below).  This is encouraging but isn’t definite, and the proposals are complex, so this shouldn’t put people off writing in to support the status quo and express their views on changes. We need to maximise support for this.

4.37 The Government intends this to build on and not replace the existing exemption for small cidermakers, as the transition at 70hL has been identified as an impediment to growth. Small cidermakers below this level will continue to be exempt from the requirement to register and therefore pay no excise duty. However, once cidermakers exceed this level, the Government proposes to give them a full rebate of the excise duty that would have otherwise been payable, to remove the existing distortionary ‘cliff-edge’. This rebate will only be available to cidermakers who produce less than the maximum threshold for the small producer relief as a whole.

The consultation deadline is 30 January 2022.  Do let us know if you need any advice on what it all means and what should be said!

The consultation webpage, with details of how to respond, is at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-new-alcohol-duty-system-consultation

Direct link to the consultation document is https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1028702/20211026_Alcohol_Duty_Review_Consultation_and_CFE_response.pdf

Thank you!

Berry Hill Community Orchard Wassail 14th January 2022

Berry Hill Community Orchard Wassail

Friday 14th January 2022

4pm song, dance, blessing and festivities up on the orchard site.

Followed by dancing from cheese, apple, bread and beverages at the Globe Inn.

Please bring along instruments, festive wear and battery lights/torches.

GL16 7BZ

 

Hartpury OC Wassail CANCELLED

Sorry, this event has been cancelled due to Covid related issues.

The annual Wassail at the National Perry Pear Centre/Hartpury Orchard Centre.

Friday 21 January 2022, from 7pm depending on what is permitted.

We are advising folks to check our website on the day, in case it is called off.

Obviously we don’t now know if we will be serving food, but will if we can.

More information will be posted at https://www.hartpuryheritage.org.uk/events/

Pruning workshop December 2021

Eight GOT members attended Martin Hayes’ pruning workshop at GOT’s Longney orchard on Thursday 16th December 2021.

There was time to discuss members’ individual orchard queries and to learn about a range of issues including planting, rootstocks and guarding trees.

Trust Juice and cider was available to purchase.

The resident pheasant kept an eye on the proceedings from a safe distance from Martin’s dog!

Photos kindly taken by Jacquie Sarsby.

 

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Defra announcement about the new Farming Investment Fund

An interesting piece of kit apparently available via the fund!  It’s a Fruit Ripeness Spectrometer – “Handheld device for use in orchards to determine produce quality and harvest timing. Uses NIR (Near Infra-Red) to determine and measure DM (Dry Matter), total soluble solids, titratable acidity, and colour to determine ripeness”  Probably not designed for our mixed variety traditional orchards!

Defra has recently launched the new Farming Investment Fund.

Much of it looks beyond the scope of your average orchard grower, but there are some things like electric fencing that might be useful.

 

This is the wording from their announcement:

We are very pleased to let you know that Defra has launched today, Tuesday 16th November, the new Farming Investment Fund which will offer funding for equipment, technology, and infrastructure that improves farm productivity and benefits the environment.

This fund will provide grants to farmers, foresters and growers (including contractors to these sectors) helping them to focus on more efficient production methods that will reduce resource costs, improve yields, and give them a better return. It will also support farmers who want to process and add value to their existing products, create new products, or sell their produce directly to consumers. 

The Farming Investment Fund offers funding for both smaller investments - The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and for larger investments – The Farming Transformation Fund. Today, we are opening applications for the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and for grants focused on the Water Management theme of the Farming Transformation Fund, which is dedicated to arable and horticultural businesses growing, or intending to grow, irrigated food crops, ornamentals or forestry nurseries.  Additional grants and themes will be made available as part of this fund in the future.

Please read our blog post and our press release to find more information about the available grants. For more background information we have a key messages document (available here). 

The Funds will open to applicants on Tuesday 16 November. The application deadline for the Farming, Equipment and Technology Fund will be 12:00 noon on 7th January 2022. The online checker for the Farming Transformation Fund will run until 12th January 2022, with the full application deadline on the 30th June 2022. 

Apple Grafting Workshop 19th February 2022

At Winterbourne Medieval Barn, Bristol, BS36 1SE

Booking essential – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/bristol/winterbourne-medieval-barn/apple-grafting-workshop/e-kvdqjb

Come and learn how to graft apple trees on this course under the tuition of Ben Raskin, a previous commercial fruit grower and an enthusiastic, effective and very knowledgeable teacher, now Head of Horticulture at The Soil Association.

Grafting is the process of propagating new trees. You take the scion wood which is a twig from a variety of apple tree that you like, and then fuse it to the rootstock. The rootstock is the branch or stem of another tree which has been selected for size, or tolerance of certain soil conditions. This way you can clone fruit varieties, guaranteeing that the fruit on the tree is as tasty as you want it to be!

You will learn why we graft, how to graft and put these skills into practice by forming at least three grafts that you can take away at the end of the day.

Everybody who has provided feed back from previous course has rated the course as excellent. Here are some quotes from previous attendees:
‘Learning a new skill that I feel confident I can use independently and that I came away with 4 trees that I have made’
‘Excellent information. Good guidance. Friendly and fun.’
‘Hands on, great support and encouragement throughout, taking part in an ancient practice.’
‘Friendly, no previous knowledge/experience required. Time for everyone, un-rushed and relaxed.’

We will provide some common varieties for grafting. If you have a favourite that you wish to propagate, then bring your own wood to graft. If there is a particular variety that you wish to graft but do not have the wood, please let us know and we will attempt to procure some wood for you. The only equipment you will need to bring is a very sharp knife (e.g. a Stanley Knife) and some secateurs.

Cost £45, tea coffee and biscuits will be provided, please bring your own lunch.

If you have any questions about this workshop, please contact Robert on 0117 957 4921.

Booking essential – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/bristol/winterbourne-medieval-barn/apple-grafting-workshop/e-kvdqjb

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