DNA analysis of local varieties – our part in the national review – and an update

We have, as many will know, been taking part in a national initiative using DNA analysis to rationalise and better understand local varieties – how they relate (literally!) to one another and whether some are identical to others.  And, where they are identical to others with differing names (perhaps in other areas) which name should take precedent,

This has been a challenging project, requiring leaf samples from named varieties being sent to labs, particularly East Malling Research centre in Kent, for analysis.  The project is not ours – though several people from the GOT committee are involved and we are significant contributors of samples – it is a national initiative we are helping with.  Updates on progress overall can be found on the FruitID website’s help pages: https://www.fruitid.com/index.html#help – click on Register of LocalCultivars for documentation.

But where, after 3 years or so of work, have we got to in Gloucestershire?

Well, we do now have new and revised lists of Gloucestershire apple and pear varieties – some details of which rock the boat a little – we have fewer ‘Gloucestershire’ varieties than we thought!  But that’s to be expected when everything is compared using DNA – there are bound to be matches and competing claims.

The revised listings (as at the end of November 2019) are now available on the varieties part of our website – https://glosorchards.org/home/fruitvarieties/research/

Display boards installed at Longney Orchard

Our display boards are now installed in the barn at Longney – following sterling work by Stuart, Pete, Ann and Keith who had to battle quite a lot of mud to get onto the site.  Our thanks to all of them.

These are the boards used at the Folk Museum two years ago – always intended for Longney afterwards, and now they’re there!

Picture by Pete Smith

Juicing at COCO on the Glos/Worcs border

posted in: apple day, apples, Juice, orchard | 0

On Sunday 20th October 2019 members of Conderton and Overbury Community Orchard (COCO) gathered to press some of the juices of their fruit crop.

Lots of the young trees planted by the group were weighed down with fruit which was particularly good to see and the juice was sweet!

Juicing equipment was provided by Kemerton Orchard Workers – the next village – for a small donation to their fund.

For more info on COCO visit http://www.overbury.org/coco

 

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Apple Days = Apple Cakes

We’re in the middle of Apple Day season – but instead of just another picture of people and apples, here’s a mouth-watering picture of some of the Apple (and Pear and Quince) Cakes on offer at the Days Cottage Apple Day last weekend.

There’s something for everyone at an Apple Day!

 

Apple Days galore, even in Gloucester City

It’s apple picking time and there are events all over the county to celebrate the harvest and customs of traditional orchards.  Many are billed as ‘Apple Day’ a concept established by the charity Common Ground way back in 1990.  Read more about that on their website at http://www.commonground.org.uk/apple-day/   Many Gloucestershire Apple day events are listed on our website on the Events pages at  https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/

One particularly exciting event, in the centre of Gloucester itself, is at the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly the Folk Museum) where Gloucester Civic Trust will be hosting the Annual Apple day on Saturday 19th of October 2019 from 10am to 4pm. It will be a Celebration of Gloucestershire Apples and Cider Making.

Come and see Rosie the Cider horse, who is coming for the first time this year to help turn the apple mill and make Apple Day in Gloucester a success. She is taking over from Fergus who has now retired after five years of service.

“This is one of the last fully operational horse powered apple mills in the West Country” said Alex Bailey, Chairman of the Operations Team at The Folk, “and we are very fortunate that we can still demonstrate how it works”

There will also be a chance to try some rare breed apples provided by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust and they will be there to sell apple juice and ciders and provide advice on looking after your own apple trees.

There will be lots of Children’s activities available and Morris Dancers from Lassington Oak performing and giving Morris Dancing workshops.

We will have live music from a folk band and Bygonz performing at the event too.

For extra refreshment there will be Severn Cider running a bar with some of their favourite craft ciders available to buy.

This is a preview event for the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly Folk Museum) which is opening in Spring 2020 and will be an exhibition and events space housed in a large Tudor building in Lower Westgate, Gloucester. It will tell the story of Gloucester Folk from Tudor Times to the Modern Day.

The Folk will be operating a café during the event offering Teas, Coffees, Ciders and soft drinks.

Full Press Release is available here: https://glosorchards.org/home/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Apple-Day-Press-Release-2019.pdf

World Record for Perry Pears (again!)

Congratulations to Jim Chapman, who, at the National Perry Pear Centre’s Open Afternoon in Hartpury last weekend, displayed 108 varieties of Perry Pear, a World Record. Comfortably beating his own previous record of 97 varieties last year. Most were from the National Perry Pear Centre’s own Hartpury orchards, augmented by a few from Malvern.

You missed it? Don’t worry, you can see the display again next weekend in the Orchard Pavilion at the Malvern Autumn Show. Jim will be on hand to identify any perry pears you may like to bring. A donation is asked for to help the Trust’s work at the Centre.

And GOT’s own stand will be nearby with a Gloucestershire apple display, tasting opportunities for selected (ripe) apple varieties and juice for sale plus tree advice.

Harvest, and show, time

With Apple Day looming and the apple and pear crop ripening rapidly – some varieties earlier than others of course – it is time to think about orchard events and shows.

We have many listed on the website – including many dates for Apple Day – an event originally set as being October 21st by Common Ground (see http://commonground.org.uk/projects/orchards/apple-day/) but, not surprisingly, now spread out across many early autumn weekends.

Do have a look at the events list on the website – and let us know if you want your event added. The events page is at https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/

The next event we’ll be at will be Malvern Autumn Show – this coming weekend – more about that soon…

Snippets of Longney News – sheep and loo

posted in: Longney, orchard, volunteers | 0

Our work at our Longney orchards is ongoing – and we are particularly pleased this season to finally have sheep grazing – which has been our ambition from the start.  The grazing will improve the orchards considerably – from a management, biodiversity and landscape perspective.

Meanwhile the fencing has been completed, benches erected in the barn and interpretation signage is in place. Young people with special needs continue to visit most Mondays and a charity camps in the orchards in early summer.

We also now have our new composting toilet from Free Range Designs up and running – many thanks to volunteers Stuart and Pete for installing. It is already proving popular, particularly with students and staff who visit each Monday! You can find it behind the renovated barn. Some final details need to be completed but it is fully functional.  For more about this design visit Free Range Designs here.

And, whilst we’re on the toilet (so to speak), could anyone please provide GOT with:sawdust or wood chip (preferably untreated)?  And a large lidded storage bin or wheelie bin? Please let Ann know if you can help via info@glosorchards.org  Thanks!

Days Cottage Blossom day brings in the crowds

Everyone enjoyed the magnificent apple blossom at Days Cottage Blossom afternoon last Sunday, 5th May.

Members, visitors and Stroud Farmers Market friends attended the event at at the Orchard & Rural Skills Centre, home not just of the Gloucestershire varieties of apple but also varied mature and young orchards and a forest garden.  Apple cakes and hot spiced apple juice were enjoyed in the cosy yurt.  Days Cottage juice, cider and perry and orchard honey and trees were for sale.  There was needle felting craft for children.

GOT committee were on hand to sell orchard-related books, hand out literature and chat about orchards.

We owe many thanks to Jane Willoughby who is turning up weekly (and today) to continue formally recording the blossom on the Museum Orchard Gloucestershire apple varieties for the Fruitid.com website.

Pictures by Ann Smith:

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Fish House and Mason Bees at GOT’s AGM 2019

At the Anchor Inn

Our AGM last weekend, at The Anchor Inn in Epney, was well-attended despite indifferent and rather windy weather – which we feared might put people off coming, especially for the orchard walkabout later.

Juliet’s Fish House presentation

After the official business was over we enjoyed two presentations – one on the Fish House (in our Longney Orchards) and one on Mason Bees.  Juliet Bailey led on the Fish House, summarising her review of the building last year, the changes in overgrowth since we took the site on and the options for the future.  In an ideal world we would be able to restore the building and find a use for it – but without funding or, indeed, an obvious use, we may have to consider other options. Juliet outlined the main scenarios – from full restoration to letting it fall down completely.  We had a lively discussion over the ways forward, particularly bearing in mind that we are an Orchard Trust and so must prioritise orchard conservation, and so finding a partner organisation more attuned to historic building work might be a way forward.  Some early ideas of partnerships are already being explored.

Learning about Mason Bees

This was followed by a presentation by Chris and John Whittles from Mason Bees UK (www.masonbees.co.uk) who promote the use of Red Mason Bees (Osmia bicornus) as pollinators for gardens and orchards.  They talked about their research on Mason Bee life cycles and pollination abilities, comparing this favourably with the more conventional concept of honey bees or bumble bees – Mason Bees being much more efficient.

Their presentation was wide-ranging – covering also experiences elsewhere (e.g. the US in Californian Almond Orchards) with other mason bee species, and the intriguing issue of observable better fruit following mason bee pollination.  This phenomenon is perhaps due to differing microbial interaction between bee and flower – with mason bee interactions different to honey or bumble bees.  The issue of colony health and good husbandry was covered too – Mason Bee UK’s system involve participants (Bee Guardians) sending the bee cocoons back to them each year to check for parasites etc, with the healthy cocoons and new nesting tubes sent back to hatch on site in spring.  This avoids the build-up of pathogens and parasites a permanent ‘bee hotel’ would suffer from.  For information on becoming one of their Bee Guardians visit their website here: https://www.masonbees.co.uk/bee-guardians

After lunch most of the attendees travelled the short distance north to our Longney Orchards, to view the changes over the last 12 months – barn restoration, fencing completion, grazing begun, remedial pruning completed etc.  And discussion continued about the Fish House – now almost invisible under its covering of ivy – and about Mason Bees – whose release boxes and new nesting sites could be seen on site.

Some more pictures from the day below (pictures by Ann Smith and Juliet Bailey):

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