Great progress made reviving the Clyde Valley orchards
Orchards are an iconic feature of the Clyde Valley and the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership has been working to secure their future through a series of initiatives.
Orchards are an iconic feature of the Clyde Valley and the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership has been working to secure their future through a series of initiatives. It is important that traditional orchards are worked and maintained and that a local market is established for fruit and fruit products from the Valley. The Rural Development Trust and Clyde Valley Orchard Group have been working together on project delivery with the aim of reviving the orchards and creating a long term future for them.
Over the last two years fantastic progress has been made:
The Clyde Valley Orchard Group being supported to purchase equipment – in particular a pasteuriser - that has enabled the group to produce ‘Clyde Valley’ apple juice for sale commercially. Last year they picked over 700kg of apples which produced 350 litres of apple juice. This has encouraged the group to consider converting to a social enterprise – Clyde Valley Orchard Co operative Ltd – to facilitate the further development of local orchard produce and products.
A small grant scheme was established by the Rural Development Trust to support new fruit tree planting and essential orchard maintenance. The first phase of the Orchard Development Scheme has been completed with 14 orchards brought into 10 year management regimes and 607 new fruit trees planted. Funding has been secured to enable a second phase of the scheme to be implemented and interest from orchard owners continues to be high.
Skills training in both orchard management techniques, such as pruning and grafting and orchard product development such as food hygiene and cider making, have proved very popular. 207 individuals took part in training activities over the last two years and we are now looking at how these skills can be cascaded at a local level.
It’s very important that we establish knowledge of and interest in orchards from the new generation. 242 pupils from four schools participated a Larkhall Community Growers project that aimed to show how produce is grown from seeds and then enjoy tasting the fresh produce at the end of the growing cycle. The course explained to the children the history and heritage of growing in the area they live and Dalserf primary successfully grew a sunflower measuring 6ft and pumpkin weighing 12.4 kg!
A new community orchard is in the process of being established in Kirkfieldbank. The project is being managed by the Central Scotland Green Network Trust and to date 150 new fruit trees have been planted. These will be maintained by the Orchard Group and the produce juiced.
Fruit Day in early October has become an eagerly awaited event and funding has been secured to enable it to run again this year- Saturday 3rd October at Overton Farm. Let’s hope for a good fruit harvest so that there will be plenty of fresh local apple juice for sale!
- Chris Parkin, Director of Rural Programmes, Rural Development Trust