2 November 2001

NOAset up to save traditional varieties

A NATIONAL body has been set up to save our old fruits. The National Orchard Association (NOA) based in Gloucestershire, comprises 19 local fruit groups located all over the country.

Ann Smith, a founder member, said it should provide a voice specially for orchard conservation, promotion and creation. Traditional orchards have declined drastically over the past 50 years.

The new organisation has been initiated by Richard Fawcett and Alan Watson, both of Gloucestershire County Council.

Gloucestershire, which has 157 indigenous apples and 20 pears, alone has lost 75% of its orchards since the war. But the tide has now turned thanks to enthusiasts like those in the NOA. A linear orchard along an old railway track has been established at Ebley and a mother tree collection of local apple varieties, which will provide a public bank of trees for future propagation, has been created near Cheltenham.

&#42 Local donations

Some of the grafts were donated by local farmer Charles Martell.

The Orchard Centre for Rural Interpretation, which will house a museum orchard, is being developed near Birdlip and will act as a focal point for education, historical information, demonstration and training.

In Yorkshire a survey by questionnaire has provided information on 169 orchards. The Northern Fruit Group, a member of the NOA is seeking lottery funding to map and study all the old orchards in the country.

The conservation body Common Ground which is also fighting to save old orchards has published a beautifully illustrated book on Orchards: Conservation, Culture and Community, which is available from it at PO Box 25309, London NW5 1ZA, price £23.95 (inc p&p).

Tom Montgomery

&#8226 The NOA is open to amateurs and professionals. Individual subscriptions are £5, corporate £25. Contact Ann Smith 01452-855677