MistleGO! mistletoe survey – ensure your orchard is recorded!

A brand new mistletoe survey has just been launched by the Tree Council and Oxford University, as an app-based citizen science project to assess the state of mistletoe in Britain. Not just where is it, but what quantities exist. This is new, and exciting, as it will help determine what is happening with mistletoe in Britain here – it seems to be spreading more and faster and we need a new study to assess this, and to create a baseline for assessments in future.

Orchard owners across Gloucestershire – and in adjoining Somerset, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gwent – will be familiar with the particular problem locally. Neglected traditional orchards, in the heart of mistletoe’s favoured region, can become overwhelmed by mistletoe – and it can result in the death of tress and accelerate orchard loss. It shouldn’t be like this of course – mistletoe has co-existed in our area and our orchards since at least the early 19th century and probably well before that. But the decline in interest in managing such orchards, coupled with an apparent increase in mistletoe spread, is now a problem.

Which we need to document. Many will recall the National Mistletoe Survey in the 1990s, run jointly by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Plantlife, the plant conservation charity. Instigated in 1992 and analysed through the 1990s up to 1999. That was led by GOT’s own Jonathan Briggs, who is an advisor on the new project  The 1990s study, also linked to orchards  but worrying that orchard loss might result in mistletoe loss (a concept that now seems naive!) merely assessed where mistletoe was growing. But not the amount growing The new project aims to address that.  There is a presentation all about it here: https://youtu.be/o6IcGgkcTGk

The assessment is not just about orchards of course – and the new project looks well beyond orchards to the wider habitats where mistletoe thrives. Anecdotal evidence, and some detailed regional local studies outside our area since the 1990s study, have suggested mistletoe is doing very well in all its habitats – orchards, parkland, churchyards, hedgerows etc. Increasing spread may be due to climate change, changes in the bird populations spreading the seeds, or something else entirely. For a discussion of all this have a read of Jonathan Briggs’ 2021 review here.

Ollie Spacey and mistletoe

So… do take part if you can. It is important that we document the abundance of mistletoe in our area!  And the new study does allow you to record multiple hosts trees at once, so no need (phew!) to document every individual orchard tree!

The project is called MistleGO! It is app-based (though you can use the website version if you prefer) and is being masterminded by Oliver Spacey, a PhD student at Oxford.  The app requires you to give location (it will do this automatically), to take a picture of the tree (or group of trees) with mistletoe, give a score of how much mistletoe there is, and, optionally, give additional information on host tree species etc. Full details (summarised below) are on the Tree Council website here and download instructions for the app (you need the Arc123 app first, and then run the MistleGO! app within that)  are here.

Or just scan this QR code.

 

How to take part:

Download the Survey123 app from the App Store or Google Play (or, if on a PC, from Microsoft)

Download the MistleGO! survey via the link above or the QR code

Open the app and click “Continue without signing in”

Click on the MistleGO! survey and start collecting your record!

You can also take part and upload pictures you’ve taken via the web version, but make sure to set your location to where you spotted the mistletoe!

A new gate and a dead hedge at Henley Bank

It may not look much more than a gate, but this gate now allows safe pedestrian access to our perry orchard at Henley Bank Brockworth, Gloucestershire, which in turn enables volunteers to help manage the orchard, so the process of returning the orchard to something approaching its former glory can now begin in earnest.  Many thanks to our treasurer Andy Ellis and his friend Richard for spending a weekend buying the materials and spending the time to get this job done.

Meanwhile, elsewhere at Henley Bank, Andy Ellis is also largely responsible for creating this ‘dead hedge’ and for all the clearing work that created the raw material from which it is made. It shows that we are making progress in restoring the orchard, making it a more welcoming and safer environment in which the local community will soon be able to join us in our volunteering work.

Note the cup of tea, resting atop the red post-banger, above David’s (our Chair of trustees) right shoulder. A hot cup of tea after an hour’s brisk and energetic work in an old traditional orchard is one of life’s pleasures.

 

Longney Apple Harvest Saturday 21st October

from 10:00

Apples picked in October will contribute to the Trust’s coffers, as the fruit will be sold to Trust Juice … and you’ll also receive some free apple juice in return.

 

If the access track is still navigable in November then there may also be a fruit harvesting day on Saturday 18th November.

Diary dates for 2024 – pruning workshops and other events

Saturday 13th January, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Longney

Saturday 10th February, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Longney

Saturday 9th March, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Hartpury

Saturday 13th April:  Location and activity to be confirmed

Saturday 11th May:  Location and activity to be confirmed

Saturday 6th June;  Location and activity to be confirmed

We levy a small fee of £5 for the pruning workshops from our supporters; the sessions are also open to the general public for a fee of £25.

If you’d like to sign up to a pruning workshop then please email martin.hayes@glosorchards.org and treasurer@glosorchards.org

Community Orchard Survey – 10 minutes online

posted in: community, orchard, volunteers | 0
Masters student Rosa Smith from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester is undertaking a study called

Assessing the environmental and social impacts of restoring traditional orchards in Gloucestershire.

The purpose is to gain a better understanding of the social impacts of orchard restoration throughout the county.

It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. You are free to omit any question.

The survey is at https://rau.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/community-orchards-survey

Do pass on to anyone else who may be interested.
Also, if anyone would be able to do a short Zoom interview with Rosa, let us know as that would also be much appreciated.
As we know, community orchards are a huge benefit culturally, socially, historically and for wildlife as well as reducing food miles!

The Big Help Out – Coronation Volunteer Day at Longney!  8th May 2023

Our volunteering day at Longney, Monday 8th May 

As part of our informal get-together on 8th May, we’re teaming up with CPRE to help with their recently launched Hedgerow Hero project.  Hedges are the country’s largest nature reserve and  we’re going to assess the health of the hedges in and around our orchards at Longney and submit  our findings to their national database.  It’s all part of The Big Help Out

GOT Trustee David Lindgren (with GOT’s Tim Andrews of CPRE Gloucestershire) about the exciting The Big Help Out Day, a national event but here based at GOT’s Longney Orchard, just south of Gloucester. You and your families would be most welcome.

 

  • Arrive:  10:30 
  • Hedgerow Hero and Orchard Help Out 10:30 to 13:00 
  • Relaxation and Refreshment 13:00 onwards
For location and parking instructions click here.

First orchard is Long Tyning (long and thin) then Bollow. Also on site are Middle & Lower Orchards which have been planted up with heritage apple and plum trees of regional/national importance.

We look forward to seeing you! Any queries to David Lingren david@cotswoldfruit.co.uk

Please note there is no vehicular access, so please park at or near the white railings on the road, being mindful of neighbours.
The track is very muddy but the orchards are lovely and a wildlife haven. No dogs please; there are sheep and please keep gates closed.

There is a barn (with interpretation signage), chairs, composting loo and running cold water. Re health and safety, there is a first aid kit in the store in the barn. The ground is uneven, there are some brambles and low hanging branches. The river Severn is fenced off.

 

Longney Workshops throughout 2023

GOT orchardist Martin Hayes is running a series of workshops at GOT’s lovely Longney Orchard, south of Gloucester.

Date will be (many not yet confirmed):

  • Friday Feb 17th Pruning, mature apple trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday Mar 22nd Pruning, young apple & pear trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday Apr 12th Pruning, young apple & pear trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday 10th May Pruning, mature plum trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday 14th June Pruning, young plum trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • July, date tbc General maintenance
  • Aug, date tbc General maintenance
  • Aug, date tbc Pick your own plums
  • Sept, date tbc Pick your own plums (and apples, if any are ripe)
  • Oct, date tbc Fruit picking for Trust Juice
We are hoping that a regular work-party will be able to help with general maintenance, but no commitment if you just want to attend a pruning workshop.
There is a barn (with interpretation signage), chairs, composting loo and running cold water. Have your lunch in the barn!
Martin is very knowledgeable; so much to learn/share. He will go through health and safety with you. He is first aid trained and we have a first aid kit in the store. The ground is uneven, there are some brambles and low hanging branches.
Tools will be provided, but do bring your own saws, secateurs and gloves if you can. Please bring own refreshments and appropriate footwear and weather attire.
No dogs please; there are sheep and please keep gates closed.
No vehicular access, so please park at or near the white railings on the road, being mindful of neighbours.
If anyone is able to take a couple of photos on the day (if no one objects) for the GOT website, please let us know, thank you via info@glosorchards.org
First orchard is Long Tyning (long and thin) then Bollow. Also on site are Middle & Lower Orchards which have been planted up with heritage apple and plum trees of regional/national importance.
Please book (essential) via info@glosorchards.org and on the day please bring emergency contact details for Martin.
£5 for GOT members for just the workshops (and £20 for non members, which includes a year’s membership).
You can pay through the Donate button on the GOT website at https://glosorchards.org/home/join-us-got-membership/
(non members can also join on that page).

Longney Workshop News

The first of our planned monthly workshops at Longney Orchard took place on 18th January.

A small team of energetic (and young) people pruned about 8 to 10 trees at the far end of the Long Tyning part of the orchard.

The prunings have been gathered into piles, but some limbs are rather big for manhandling so there are several piles of wood.

These will be tackled and sorted, and tidying up pruned wood at a later date.

More Longney workshops are planned – details will be posted on the website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 2 3 4 5 8