Grafting, growing, grazing: the art of the orchard

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by Chloe Ward

Since 1960, around two-thirds of Britain’s orchards have been lost. But a recent surge of interest has led to more of us planting or managing fruit trees

Apples at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Orchards are valuable for biodiversity, are a useful source of local, seasonal food, and can be a great way of bringing communities together. For many of us, tending an orchard is also the ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon. The type of orchard you choose will depend on what you want to get out of it. Do you want it to be your own personal achievement, your domain – a place where you can immerse yourself in your work, without interruption? Or would you prefer not to do all the thinking, but have fun days with friends, and perhaps enjoy cider drinking sessions? Do you want to experiment with rare varieties or grow something tried and tested? Alongside thinking about the purpose of the orchard, you will also need to consider the resources available, including the site, labour and finances. These choices shouldn’t be rushed. In ten years’ time, it won’t make much difference whether you planted in 2012 or 2013, but it will make a difference what you planted.

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This article was first published in CAT’s Clean Slate magazine.