We have lost nearly all our orchards. Paul Kingsnorth’s book Real England devotes an entire chapter to visiting old orchards, lamenting the fact that despite being a country with around 3000 types of apples, around 70% are imported, while heirloom varieties go extinct. Buy local and organic (conventional apples are often sprayed with dead insects, to make them shiny). Or grow your own organic fruit trees. Support The Orchard Project that restores local orchards, teaching volunteers to grow and maintain them, giving free fruit to all.
See make your garden safe for pets to know toxic plants, mulch etc to avoid (fruit pips & seeds are toxic to pets). Use humane safe slug & snail deterrents and use no-dig garden methods. Also see safer alternatives to netting for wildlife. Many trees (including oak and yew) are toxic to horses.
Taming Fruit is an ode to how orchards have nourished body and soul through history. They are sites for worship and rest, inspiration for artists and writers, and places for people to gather. Award-winning writer Bernd Brunner interweaves evocative illustrations with masterful prose to show the story of orchards over millennia. The first orchards may well have been dotted with date trees where desert nomads stopped to rest. It’s only with expanding populations that modern fruit trees sprang from the lush gardens of the wealth and monasteries, to finally change the landscapes of fields and urban landscapes.
The Orchard Book is a guide to plant and maintain a wildlife-friendly fruit orchard, distilled from 20 years of experience. Whatever your garden size or budget, this shows how to maximise your harvest and minimise your outlay. The book covers:
- Rootstocks and fruit varieties
- Planting plants
- Maintenance and pruning
- preserving the harvest
Wade’s passion for the history and heritage of fruit trees is infectious. Let him draw you into a world of apples and pears, walnuts and cobnuts, cherries and plums, and of ancient varieties like quince, medlar and mulberry, and even of juicy apricots, figs and peaches. Imaging having organic fruit all year round from your own little nature haven.
Books Apples Want You To Read
- Orchard: A Year in England’s Eden meets rotting windfall apples and frost that lies thick on the ground. A chattering blanket of starlings descend on last year’s fruit – joining bramblings, blackbirds, angry-faced waxwings and intoxicated fieldfares who (drunk on fermented berries) fight over rotting real estate. Find bumble and solitary bees apartment-hunting in April, spotted flycatchers migrating in May, redstarts, hedgehogs and owls nesting in June, and cider-making in autumn.
- Community Orchards Handbook shows you how to build your own orchard. It shows individuals and groups how to grow their own orchards, and with info on getting support, tackling legal issues and selling produce. Includes suggestions on ‘apple mapping’ and saving local varieties, with tips on harvesting and safeguarding your orchard. Includes examples of communities that are successfully saving orchards.
- The Apple Orchard: The Story of Our Most English Fruit is a beautiful ode to the apple. ‘An orchard is not a field. It’s not a forest or a copse. It couldn’t occur naturally. But an orchard doesn’t override the natural order. It enhances it, dresses it up. It demonstrates that man and nature together can (just occasionally) create something more beautiful (and literally) more fruitful, than either could alone.
The Light Between Apple Trees illuminates the gift of the land, as the author takes readers on a journey of historic and wild fruit orchards, along ancient forests and pollinator corridors. Priyanka Kumar helps bridge the gulf with nature, with tips on foraging, reading the land’s ecology, planting rare fruit trees, cultivating microbe-rich soil, growing healing herbs and edible flowers, and inviting over pollinators and birds.
Donate Apples, Get Free Cider!
London’s Orchard Project will let you donate apples and pears to spare, then use the windfalls and leftover fruits to make cider, and you get back a share of the profits. Since the project began in 2016, the project has rescued over 32 tonnes of unwanted fruit to turn into apple juice and cider, while training over 1000 volunteers, and giving over £12,000 back to the community.
The vegan cider and apple juice is handmade by local volunteers, using collected culinary and dessert apples, then slowly fermented at the cider house in Walthamstow. It’s matured in small batches to produce a refreshing light cider, with a unique taste (as all apples are different). It’s sold to small shops in London, with each 3kg apple donation producing one 330ml bottle back to you. Apples donated must be without chemical sprays and handpicked or windfalls (small bruising okay).
Also in London, Hawkes Cider is made the same way. This company makes a variety of ciders from donated apples, and the same applies: you get a free bottle of cider for each 3kg donated. Profits are used to help local orchard projects. Search online for apple donation points near you.