The National Trust has announced plans for two new orchards at Brockhampton in Herefordshire thanks to an award of £140,000 from players of People's Postcode Lottery.
Renowned for its collection of damson trees, the estate will recreate one orchard on land at Lower Brockhampton after research from the 19th century revealed that the fields surrounding the manor house had once supported a much larger orchard of 21 acres. A second and more traditional orchard will be also be planted on a neighbouring tenant farmer's land.
The 'reimagined orchard', currently used for grazing, will tell the story of how various fruit trees like apple, pear and damson ended up arriving in the UK.
The People's Apple
Ellie Jones, project manager said, "The planting design looks almost like the five seed chambers that you can see when you cut through an apple horizontally.
"The orchard will be planted with circular 'orchard rooms' containing unusual and rare varieties specially chosen to tell the story of the history of the eating apple; from its origins in Kazakhstan thousands of miles away to its cultural significance as 'the people's apple' of Russia, as well as sharing the story of the well-known and traditional Herefordshire cider apples.
"We're also celebrating our damson heritage - we have the largest number of Shropshire Prune trees in Herefordshire which is one of the oldest varieties of damson, and one of the orchard rooms will be solely planted with Brockhampton damsons".
Artist Walter Jack, who is collaborating with the project, said, "Getting a good fruit tree is about being lucky, spotting you've been lucky and very skilfully seizing your luck. That's how we've got the delicious apples, damsons and other fruits we eat today. These circular orchards, are about telling this story of fruit at Brockhampton and where it began a few miles away and a few thousand miles away. This is about the geographical connections that are the extraordinary story of fruit."
Two Orchards, One Purpose
Ellie added, "Nowadays it is so important for us all to ensure we are taking care of our health and wellbeing and we hope that this project will enable more people to feel included in our work and able to spend more time in the outdoors and closer to nature"
The second orchard on a neighbouring tenant's farmland will be planted as part of National Trust's ambition to diversify and to create more nature friendly habitats, where a large number of traditional varieties of apple, pear and damson trees will be planted along with new meadow grass which will include native wildflowers to encourage a diversity of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
As well as creating new homes for wildlife, the new orchards will be designed and restored to improve drainage and culverts, which will allow water to flow more efficiently between fields.
Will Humpington, from People's Postcode Lottery said, "This project is not only a great way of telling the story of how the humble apple made its way to the UK, it is also, very importantly creating new habitats and improving and increasing the diversity of wildlife at this historic estate."
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