The Orchards and Wild Harvest Project 

by Jools Cox
The ‘Orchards and Wild Harvest Project’ was launched in March 2009 by the planting of fruit trees at Kirkcudbright Academy and at Castle Douglas Activity and Resource Centre.

The orchard project, managed by South West Community Woodlands Trust and working closely with the Crichton Carbon Centre, wants to facilitate the planting of a minimum of a thousand fruit and nut trees in Dumfries and Galloway over the next two years.

The aim of the project is to encourage the people of Dumfries and Galloway to plant and eat locally grown fruit and nuts in order to promote health and wellbeing, enhance local biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions. The project is funded by people buying a tree as a donation to the project, or by giving a tree as a Christmas, birthday or christening present or as a memorial. The gift recipient will receive a certificate of planting.

With the assistance of landowners, the Forestry Commission, and community groups it is envisaged that trees and shrubs bearing edible fruits such as Elder, Rowan, Hazel, Crabapple, Damson and traditional local orchard varieties will be planted in school grounds, community orchards, in hedgerows – particularly along footpaths, to enhance the walking experience, and along the national cycle route to enhance the local cycling experience, creating the ‘fruit routes of Dumfries and Galloway’.

Reducing the carbon footprint of the region is fundamental to the project and can be achieved by encouraging walking, cycling, planting trees as a leisure activity, and eating locally produced fruit rather than imported varieties.

We want to celebrate the seasons by helping people hold local blossom and fruit events throughout the region at food town events, farmers’ markets and country fairs. We want to run orchard tours, juicing and tasting sessions, storytelling sessions and cookery demonstrations, linking up with local jam and wine producers.

The taste of a fresh crisp sweet apple in season is something many people have forgotten. I want kids to walk through trees laden with blossom and humming bees, and experience the pleasure of gathering and eating locally grown fresh fruit.

The Orchards and Wild Harvest project will also assist in the mapping of existing fruit trees and orchards and collect information on varieties that do well in Dumfries and Galloway, in order to help others choose trees for specific locations. This information will be collated for the Local Biodiversity Action Plan database of orchard trees and some of the key points will be published in 2011.

Do you:
want to be involved in the project?
know of an area of land that would benefit from fruit and nut trees?
have information about ancient orchards, new orchards, or specific varieties?
want to donate or purchase a gift tree for the project?

If so, please contact Jools Cox 100A Queen Street, Castle Douglas DG7 1EH. Tel. 01556 503649, email  joolscox@tiscali.co.uk