Grafting for Orchards
Greater Manchester Orchard Project
An exciting new project that aims to rediscover, investigate and renew the lost orchards and apple varieties of Greater Manchester has just been launched.
Do you have a lost apple variety in your back garden?
Members of the public are being to asked to report the location of old fruit trees or even old orchards in Greater Manchester and heritage orchard owners are also being offered assistance in managing old fruit trees and help identifying their apple varieties.
There are many ‘missing’ local apple varieties which were with us at the end of the 20th century but have now been lost. Scarlet Tiffing, Trumpeter, Sugar and Brandy, Royal Shepherd, Lady Pilkington and many others may still be out there somewhere and they are a part of our cultural and historic heritage.
Funding and training
Made possible through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Grafting for Orchards – The Greater Manchester Orchard Project needs help from members of the public to find these old fruit trees and orchards. The project will offer to identify fruit varieties and also take cuttings from the trees to grow on and preserve for future generations. The project is also looking to help people discover their orchard heritage and the wildlife that these sites support.
Greater Manchester is not known for its fruit growing heritage in the same way as, say, Kent. There is however, a rich history of locally distinct fruit production for supply to some of the famous local markets like Wigan and Bury.
Reasons for past losses
Heritage varieties of apples may be good "eaters", "cookers" or good for making cider but they may not store well or look right for commercial use and as a consequence, a lot of these varieties are no longer grown. Most apple trees live between 100 and 150 years, if no attempt is made to identify heritage orchards and trees in GM and efforts made to care for them, they could be lost forever.
Local knowledge is very important when it comes to identifying and rediscovering old fruit varieties. Speaking to local people and recording their knowledge and stories of old orchards is crucial in aiding apple identification and will be very much part of the project. The tales and stories of these old orchards will add to the local character of areas and maybe even reinvigorate the supply of local heritage fruit varieties to local markets.
Whilst there has been a large focus on the planting of new orchards and community orchards, this project will rediscover and conserve an important part of the 'lost' or 'forgotten' natural heritage of GM.
Orchards and wildlife
In 2007 and 2012 orchards were listed as a UK and Greater Manchester Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitat respectively, because of their value for wildlife. The skills of traditional orchard management are being lost. The project aims to help land owners and orchard managers to preserve and develop Greater Manchester's existing heritage orchards for future generations.
Using a map of potential old heritage orchards completed by the peoples trust for endangered species, the project aims to train volunteers to carry out initial ground surveys to confirm the existence of these heritage orchards and old fruit tree sites.
Following initial surveys, training will allow volunteers to carry out further site visits at identified heritage sites to collect fruit for identification, survey for wildlife, collect scion wood from unidentified trees, grow new heritage trees to restock existing community orchards, train land owners on how to care for trees and gather anecdotes from landowners of the orchards history.
How to get in touch
People wanting to volunteer to survey an old orchard site, report the location of an old fruit tree anywhere across Greater Manchester or receive help identifying the fruit varieties in their orchard, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0161 342 4007 / 07854163376. People can also register their trees/orchard sites below
Record your fruit tree or orchard
Click here to visit our online survey. Make sure you click on 'add record' before clicking on 'submit' otherwise your record could be lost.