How Fowey Valley are fighting against the loss of traditional orchards - one sip at a time
Did you know that 80% of small orchards in England and Wales have been lost since 1900? Orchards are not only a beautiful spectacle in the countryside, they also play a critical role for fauna and flora in the UK. At Fowey Valley, we’re looking to reverse this process, one sip at a time to restore a traditional part of our much-loved heritage and countryside.
John Deakin, the head of trees and woodland at the trust, says “Traditional orchards and the blossom they bring creates valuable early nectar sources for insects which are often foraging for scarce resources in the early spring. These native, historic varieties, together with other trees like blackthorn and hawthorn which also have amazing spring blossom, mature at a faster rate than other larger native species such as oak. They provide an important bridge for insects that rely on their particular ecosystems which is one of the reasons why planting more blossom trees is such a vital part of our ambitions.”
According to a report from the National Trust, the south-west of England is one of the regions hardest hit. The study found that the loss of orchards in England has been driven by changing land use to 'improved grassland' (accounting for 44 per cent of losses), urban and suburban development (28 per cent) and arable farming (19 per cent). In Wales, the land has been lost to improved grassland (57 per cent), deciduous woodland (18 per cent) and urban and suburban development (16 per cent).
The National Trust undertook the research as part of its #BlossomWatch campaign to encourage people to enjoy and celebrate spring blossom, in a bid to embed an annual cultural event similar to Japan's 'hanami' celebration. The charity is pledging to plant four million blossoming trees as part of its commitment to plant and establish 20 million trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2030.
At Fowey Valley we are deeply passionate about the environment and the integral importance of traditional orchards. For nearly thirty years, Barrie Gibson, the founder of Fowey Valley, has been producing artisan ciders in Cornwall. He started the Fowey Valley journey three decades ago, pressing by hand the apples from their six trees and those they received from friends, paying their willing band of contributors with bottles of cider. In 2012, confident that they had mastered the process, they went commercial and established Fowey Valley Cidery in a beautiful orchard in Golant, on the banks of the river Fowey in Cornwall. At Fowey Valley, we have a simple vision and mission - to bring England’s orchards back, one handcrafted tipple at a time.
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