28 Jul 2011

Stroud Apple Town

Stroud becoming an Apple Town seems to be an idea that has touched many people. Interestingly it was discuss by Green District councillors last October at our three days away - we talked about the ways we could re-orchard Stroud so this project is timely. It also fits with the Down to Earth project to look at Fruit and nuts locally - see here.

Photo: Humphreys End Orchard - see here apple picking last year

I missed the first meeting in May at the Exchange in Stroud which brought together people interested in the concept of Stroud becoming an Apple Town. There were some notes made at the meeting and I share some of them here (click read more) as they have been passed far and wide in an effort to see what else might be going on locally...do let them know if something is missing or you think you can help.

What is already happening?

Apple day, October 21, Dennis Gould / Farmers Market SVP has small juicer for community use
Westley Farm - community juicing day here every year aimed at producing serious amounts of juice. Also an AppleShare scheme last year (a kind of dating agency to link up people who want to pick but have no trees with people who have the trees but are unable to pick).
Orchard Skills Centre at Day’s Cottage Farm and collection of varieties of local apple trees.
Down to Earth Cooperative in Stroud area helps people set up and grow fruit and vegetables in their own gardens, seeking funding to expand this.
Cashes Green hospital site – orchard planned.
The Lawns – orchard renovation about to start.
Schools – Gastrells have planted fruit trees.
Go Grow Group launching Nailsworth fruit map 21 May.
Glos Wildlife Trust supporting farmers with orchards.
Orchards are a target habitat for Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan.
Also the Gloucestershire Orchard Group has a (national/local) online Marketplace for the buying/selling/exchanging fruit and any orchard related produce.
www.gloucestershireorchardgroup.org.uk then go to MARKET or www.orchardmarketplace.org.uk GOG also works with schools
Transition Stroud - Edible Open Gardens - with orchards - see here.
Philip Booth has also been involved several years running re a local apple juicing weekend - see here.
Global bee project – flowering trees and bees link.
Agri-environment scheme supports orchards.
Summary of Stroud Area Community Orchards
Horsley Orchard Project – orchards within 10 miles of Horsley
Stroud Valleys Project - Holywell Orchard @ Cam
Rockness Orchard Group
Stroud Community Agriculture apple trees at Hawkwood
Leonard Stanley Apple Group (formal proposal by the Leonard Stanley Community Enterprise Group to form community orchards in Leonard Stanley)
Randwick Orchard Chalford - Westley Farm Andrew Charters’ mobile press available to hire Thrupp Community Orchard Water Lane Community Orchard Nailsworth Go Grow Group which has an orchard project in Nortonwood Whiteway Community Orchard Group Ebley Linear Orchard – neglected! North Nibley community juicing of local fruit Woodchester Community Orchard - South Woodchester Amenity Land Trust Abbey Home Farm Eastington Community Orchards Group (ECO Group) Minchinhampton CO (Transition Minchinhampton) (Nat Trust donating land) traditional orchards survey: http://www.ptes.org/index.php?page=254

What could happen?

Re-orcharding the Stroud valleys and beyond.
Fruit trees along the canal.
Trees in planters in Stroud town centre.
New orchard by canal opposite Stroud & Swindon old HQ.
Apple levy - planning gain term each new house in Stroud District should plant 25 new apple trees (could be fruit trees) in community orchards.
Encourage people to plant in gardens. Planting in school grounds. Restoring: Existing orchards – the lawns.
Sorting out Ebley Linear Orchard
Guerrilla pruning
Extend legal scrumping approach used at Eastington.
Expand AppleShare set up Westley Farm last year (a kind of dating agency to link up people who want to pick but have no trees with people who have the trees but are unable to pick).
Community apple pressing; more juice production; an Abundance project to encourage use of waster fruit in people’s gardens Sheffield’s Abundance project http://www.growsheffield.com/pages/groShefAbund.html See also the Scrumping Project: http://theorchardgroup.wordpress.com/category/2010-scrumping-project/
Big Apple Pie bake-off with local apples.
More community juicing, pie making, chutney making and actually eating of locally grown and community produced fruit. A festival is great but the key is actually getting people to use the fruit in their daily lives, and the potential for small enterprises to spring up from such a project.
Potential planting/processing with SVP schools project.

The best way to preserve orchards - is to make apples worth growing & picking. And the easiest way to see their value is to drink their juice! There needs to be greater emphasis on efficient juicing on a larger scale to make any difference to the survival of small orchards.
Hire more equipment for medium-scale community juicing.

Celebrating and educating:
An international apple festival Work in schools Apple Day event Restore GOG stone press
Mapping local orchards and trees Guide to best time to pick/eat different varieties Stroud apple trail More wassailing! Where will we focus?
Although history is of large commercial orchards being in the Severn Vale, Stroud and the Five Valleys does have a tradition of smaller orchards. Idea for an Apple Town has also started in Stroud and has the potential for fruit trees invading the town as well as orchards around it. Lots of activity in the Five Valleys too.
So focus on Stroud and the five valleys – relate to the five-fold symmetry of horizontal cut through an apple:
Spread out to rest of district over time and according to interest.
Who can do it?
Best not to re-invent the wheel , link and focus existing activity but don't get people already doing thing to do too much more and ensure in complements and helps apple linked businesses in Stroud valleys.
Glos Orchard Group Stroudco Stroud Valleys Project Down to Earth Community orchard groups Advice from tourism / regeneration at SDC Town Council green spaces team
Needs someone to manage/co-ordinate/own the project!
What would it cost? Where can we get money?

When / how do we start?
Report meeting in local press
Clarify support from Town and District Council
Plan for Apple Day 21 Oct
Concentrate on better use of existing trees/fruit to start with.
Sort out Ebley linear orchard.
Initial planting – but trees will take 3-4 years before producing fruit: identify locations for six planters in Stroud Town Centre.
Contribute to Stroud in Bloom portfolio for judges explaining our ideas.


For Stroud to become an Apple Town: a town with apples (and pears) all around - ribbons and patches of blossom and fruit throughout the Town of Stroud and its five valleys.
A frutopian community?!

Original aims that were circulated before the meeting
  • To encourage healthier and more active people in the local community through voluntary planting, tending and harvesting and consumption of apples.
  • To celebrate and capitalise on Stroud’s heritage relating to apples and pears – local varieties, local stories, local produce.
  • To improve and make links between Stroud’s urban and rural environment in terms of biodiversity, heritage, aesthetics, education, business and tourism.
Original suggested objectives: 500 (see poem below) new apple trees planted in the town: new trees in front and back gardens, allotments and slack space around the town, urban trees in planters in the town centre. Linear orchards along the canal and cycle tracks. 50 local varieties grafted and distributed with information for schools and other groups to learn about local apples. Aim to have 50% of apples sold in local shops from local sources. 5 derelict orchards to be renovated in Stroud’s Five Valleys. One new name for events and tourism – Stroud Apple Town. One expanded apple day to celebrate apples in the autumn and five education events.

Potential partner organisations were also discussed: some already approached and lots of interest.

Contact: Ben Spencer spencer.ben(at)btinternet.com
 Apple Trees  

Two apple trees grow in my garden,
Five hundred in my head,
Two trees confer dawn's colour on the town air
Giving it, if only for a season,
The appearance, though not the heart, of Eden.
But the hundreds in my head,
Blow triumphantly on my boyhood hill,
Massed, orchards of them,
Transmuting Severn's skies
To every shade of pink,
Taming the primroses at their feet,
And so full of song, the hill
Is one continuous fire of trembling sound.
Blenheim's at peace with Cox, Beauty of Bath
Passes the time of spring with stout James Grieve,
Laxton's superb, Edmund's Russet is neat,
Ribston's Pippin wears an everlasting face;
They are huge with the promise of fruit.
My nameless trees have no proud harvestings,
They go like two old cripples into age,
Their true identity is long remembrance,
They have their blackbirds still.
By Leonard Clark describing his memories of Gloucestershire orchards. From 'Selected Poems 1940-57' (Hutchinson, 1958). Sourced from www.england-in-particular.info
You may have seen The Ecologist article about Community Orchards:

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