A new project gets to the core of orchard decline and celebrates their importance.
Orchards are an integral feature of Somerset's physical, cultural and economic landscapes. Over the past half century, mirroring national trends orchard cover has declined dramatically (63% nationally since 1950, according to a 2011 report by Natural England).
An ongoing collaboration between the Quantock Hills AONB Service and the University of Bristol's Department of Historical Studies, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council has revealed that orchards may have been a larger ingredient in the Quantocks than previously thought. Indeed initial studies show that in 1840 there were around 1,400 orchards in the Quantocks whereas today there are just 11.
The project has created a new set of multi-layered maps that plot former, current and remnant orchards within the AONB area and its buffer zone. Using ordnance survey maps, aerial maps, 19th century tithe maps and additional archive material, the maps reveal the story of orchard decline over the last 150 years. The project maps are available for public view at the AONB office in Fyne Court on request.
How this decline has affected the people who live and work in the Quantocks is an integral part of the story, and so 'Apple Heritage Day' on the 19th October 2013 aims to bring everyone together from keen gardener to dedicated cider drinker, the artistic and the rustic, young and old. The day will be a chance to celebrate everything apple that still exists in and around the Quantocks, but also serve as a chance to record memories and collect local knowledge and know-how. Apple identification, apple poetry and talks by specialists will take part amongst stalls selling juice and cider, sausages and all manner of apple based delicacies. To find out more about the day click here
It is hoped that the project will continue beyond the Quantock Apple Heritage Day, with an aim to help local communities create community orchards, or bring old remant orchards back to their former glory. Information gathered during the course of the event will also help to inform the forthcoming Quantock Hills AONB Management Plan
Georgie Grant - June 2013-->