25 January 1999
Intensive farming destroys orchards

BRITAINS apple and pear orchards have been destroyed by intensive farming and the buying policies of the supermarkets, according to a brace of recent reports.

The reports reveal that half the pear orchards and 60% of the apple orchards have been removed since 1970. Some 3000 varieties of the fruits have been lost in the process.

The studies warn that the loss of traditional fruit-growing land is seriously damaging wildlife and has driven many fruit farmers out of business.

The studies on the environmental and social effects of apple and pear production were conducted by the Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment Alliance (Safe).

Safe is urging the government to make more grants available for creating and maintaining traditional orchards. One of the authors of the report says supermarkets could do more to promote a broader range of British varieties.

The researchers found that in the largest supermarkets only a dozen British varieties of apples and pears were on sale. The organisation urges shoppers to buy the local, traditional varieties if they want to preserve them.

  • The Independent 25/01/99 page 7