News and events from Hartpury Orchard Centre

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Hartpury Orchard Centre has recently launched a new Facebook Group called Orchard Watch which invites all visitors to record the flora and fauna seen on their visit. If you join this group you will see regular updates and invitations to events such as Bioblitzes, Moth Nights, Bird Mornings and other family friendly occasions.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/939594460324806

Forthcoming events at the Centre include:

  • Sunday 24 April 2022 Blossom Day event – this will be a low key affair – just tap bar open from noon, but you can still walk around the orchard and down to the wetland/bird hide. https://www.nationalperrypearcentre.org.uk/
  • Sunday 1 May 2022 Dawn Chorus Walk 5.00 am followed by Breakfast at Orchard Centre
  • Sunday 22 May 2022 Rogation Church Service in orchard (note: the Tap-Bar will also be open)
  • Saturday/Sunday 11/12 June 2022 Moth night – all to be revealed over breakfast at Orchard Centre on the Sunday morning (weather dependent)

Plus there are Cider & Perry Courses with Peter Mitchell at the Centre.

https://www.cider-academy.co.uk/uk-courses/

A busy winter for Tim

Tim Andrews is always busy.  A dad of two, teacher, GOT committee member and owner of Orchard Revival Cider, it is not hard to fill every spare minute. Below is his summary of orchard activities so far this winter!

Pocketts Orchard, WhitminsterWe have continued to work with Cotswold Canals Connected to look after and restore the traditional orchard at Whitminster next to the canal. A particular highlight was the talk given by Jonathan Briggs, a previous GOT chair, about mistletoe. Nearly all the old trees have their yearly prune and we have cleared quite a bit of excess brambles. We await the results of the DNA testing that took place in the autumn and we hope to do some more grafting at the start of March. There is a lot planned in the summer such as fencing and building a field shelter which should allow us to control the grazing better. Work parties are held on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Please contact Peter Savage peter.savage@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk if you’d like to join us.

Tree plantingWe managed to squeeze in some more tree planting on our own land this winter. Another 24 takes us to 358 trees and 131 varieties all on full standard root stocks. Being well watered in the first year of planting we have only lost 1 tree! However, there was little growth due to the dry summer we had last year and also because I hadn’t mulched enough. There is never enough time to do it all! We have also led the creation of a new community orchard at the Ionian, a wood fired pizza restaurant on the A38 near Berkeley. We donated the trees, led the planting session and the Ionian is providing the land and paying for the guards. The pizza, cake and coffee provided certainly energised the volunteers.

PruningOnly a couple of orchards beyond Pocketts orchard managed to get pruned this year. These were a lovely old cider orchard in Halmore and a small orchard in North Nibley. I would have liked to have done more, but my teaching job gets in the way!

Bird boxesThe best bit about being a teacher is the children. This year a group of students in my year group were really keen to do something to improve the environment at my school Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School. So we held a raffle and have raised enough money to buy the materials for 4 blue tit nesting boxes, 1 kestrel box, 14 swift boxes and a sound system to attract the swifts. The students’ next job is constructing the boxes and erecting them on the school site. I am also working with a bird expert in our village, Peter Kirmond. We are hoping to turn North Nibley into a swift hub by erecting lots of swift nesting boxes. For each bottle or pint of our Save Our Swift cider we donate 20p towards the cause.

GraftingWe are also running a number of grafting workshops thanks to a Farming in Protected Landscapes grant. Martin Hayes and David Lindgren, our joint GOT chairs, will be on hand to help to. We’ll be at North Nibley on 1st March, Avening on 8th March and Hazleton on the 14th March. Email Martin if you are interested in attending martin@glosorchards.org.

Tim Andrews  https://orchardrevival.co.uk/

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Traditional Orchard for sale near Hereford

This is, as we understand it, an historic orchard planted in the 1930s for Bulmers.

It is a traditional mixed variety orchard, and a perfect opportunity for an orchard enthusiast/group to restore and conserve

Selling Agent is Sunderlands. Their opening description is below:

Traditional orchard next to Adams Hill, Breinton, Hereford, HR4 7PB.

Summary of features:

– Approx. 2.53 acres (1.024 ha)
– Good roadside access
– Traditional cider orchard
– For sale by Informal Tender

Offers to be received by 17 February 2022

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!

Fruit identification – what variety is that?

It’s that time of year again – when people start collecting, harvesting or simply noticing, fruit and quite often want to know variety of apple, pear etc they are picking or eating or looking at.

Is it unusual, rare, common? What is the best use of it – cider, perry, dessert, or cooking? And, if you have a lot, what are the keeping qualities?

There are many resources that can help – both within and outside GOT – and a few are listed below.

Firstly it’s worth noting that we are due to develop our ‘Varieties’ website at glosorchards.org/home/fruitvarieties soon – but unfortunately not in time for harvest this year.  However there are some archived resources from our old website available via that site – for a full index of those click here.

Secondly there are people who can help direct including:

  • Perry pears – contact Jim Chapman jjrchapman@btinternet.com (small charge)
  • Apples – the Marcher Apple Network www.marcherapple.net are experts – (proforma needed or visit at the shows they
    attend, including Malvern Autumn Show, Big Apple Harvest Time Weekend etc). (small charge)
  • Brogdale Horticultural Trust (by post, charge) http://www.brogdalecollections.org/
  • Apple Afternoon at Days Cottage – 8th October (details here) or bring small amounts to Stroud Farmers Markets
    on Saturdays to their stall

Or, thirdly, you could try DIY id online at Fruitid.com a national fruit self-identifying website with high quality photographs, more added continually and aiming to eventually have all tree fruits.

And, last but by no means least, you can look up local fruit varieties in GOT’s own publications, including

  • Pears of Gloucestershire and Perry Pears of the Three Counties, by Charles Martell (2013) and
  • Native Apples of Gloucestershire by Charles Martell (2014)

Both are available on our bookshop page here.