Quantock Hills Blog

A new orchard at Seven Ash inspired by Apple Day

- Local business woman Christine Powell tells the tale of planting a new heritage apple orchard.

Katy Coate

Posted by Katy Coate on 18 March 2014

A new orchard at Seven Ash inspired by Apple Day A couple of years ago Richard and Christine Powell started a rare breed dual purpose chicken business in Seven Ash called Chicken or the Egg http://www.chickenortheegg.co.uk  and have now planted an orchard with heritage apple trees, thanks to inspiration from Apple Day held at Fyne Court last October and funding from the Quantock Hills AONB Service.  Here is the story in Christine’s words:

I have fond memories as a child in the late 70’s of my father bringing home some windfall apples from Coarsley Farm near Crowcombe station, as he had sheep in the field that year.  The apples were enormous and tasted like heaven - I would eat at least 3 a day.  I remember my nan telling me they were Morgan’s.  As kids we realised that the bruise bits tasted like cider (having tasted some homemade cider that was given to my parents from a man at Combe Florey).  This prompted us to bang perfectly nice apples on the ground before eating them. It was only one season that my dad rented the field for, but it’s a memory of sheer amazement that will last forever.

September last year I received an email from the Quantock Hills AONB Service asking if anyone had any memories of apples for the Apple Day to be held at Fyne Court.  I looked up Morgan apples, and found to my amazement I discovered they were actually a cider apple that was also good for eating and cooking.

I responded to the email with my memories as previously mentioned. I had a lovely response from the organiser and was invited to go to the Apple Day and have my memories recorded. I was also excited to find that there would be a stall possibly selling Morgan apple trees.  I told my husband that we were going to the event without fail as we may be able to get one Morgan apple tree.

At the Apple Day we found that Stuart from Triscombe Nurseries, (just down the road from us), had a stall selling apple trees.  We got chatting and realised how passionate Stuart was about his trees and just how important it was to keep these tree alive. 
A couple weeks later we bought a Morgan Sweet and a Tom Putt (we chose Tom Putt as we liked the look of the apples at the Fyne Court display).  Whilst chatting to Stuart about apples and how we would love to bring the old breeds back to our house as a tribute to the house, Stuart mentioned that there was possible grant funding, but we would need to contact the Quantock AONB Service.

After corresponding with Iain Porter at the AONB Service, we were so thrilled to have been awarded a grant to help towards funding further trees. Stuart had done some research for us, as we had said that we wanted the older or the more endangered varieties.  We also wanted trees with character.  Armed with a long list of names, and looking on Stuart’s website we compiled a list of trees to purchase.

We had a list of apples we wanted based on age, use, name and storage ability. However the following trees were picked out for the following additional reasons:-
Pitmaston Pineapple - taste of pineapples
Bramley - this tree is from the original Bramley
Ashmeads Kernal - only tree that survived when the settlers went to America.
Cats Head - one of the oldest apple breeds in England

Stuart delivered our trees and we walked him around our planting plot, sharing how we would plant the trees in snaking rows to look natural, rather than uniformed.  We planted some of the trees with four generations of our family to mark the event as we really feel we were making history.

Even through the trees are bare, we are already enjoying walking through the trees.  We can’t wait to see the blossom and are so happy knowing that these trees will help the local wildlife, our chickens and the apple project. Also can’t wait to harvest the apples and share them with friends, family, Open Door - the homeless charity in Taunton and the elderly at harvest festival.  We are also looking forward to having a go at making cider using different blends of apples.

We are so proud of our trees and want to make information plaques for each tree.  If you know the date of Crimson King or Plum Vite please let me know.

....‘From little acorns great oaks grow’......from one email an orchard now grows.

Thank you so much for helping us, it really does mean so much in so many ways.

Richard & Christine Powell


Apple Day at Fyne Court was organised by the Quantock Hills AONB Service and University of Bristol with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council

Comments in chronological order (Total 2 comments)

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  • No avatar available
    Marianna Dudley

    19 Mar 14

    As one of the organizers of Quantock Apple Heritage Day, it is so wonderful to hear feedback like this.  One of the reasons behind the day was to celebrate, with the Quantocks community, their rich local orchard heritage, in the hope that some people would be inspired to reintroduce orchards back in to local landscapes. It is exciting to hear one example of this, so soon after the event; I hope it inspires others to follow the Powell’s example, and raise the profile of local apple varieties, important habitats, and traditional apple-based customs. I remember your initial email, Christine and Richard - I’m so glad that it led to a whole orchard!  The poster boards detailing the project behind Quantock Apple Heritage Day can be viewed online, here: http://www.environmentalhistories.net/?p=784  , and the maps are available to consult (with appointment) at the Quantock AONB Service offices, Fyne Court.

  • No avatar available
    Robin Sparkes

    01 Apr 14

    loved the story about historic apples. I grew up on an old cidir apple farm in somerset and we had many of the old varieties of apple trees growing in a valley where the trees were not bulldozed,coxes brambles and newton wonders

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