The staff and volunteers at Pill Farm have been hard at work this week collecting over a tonne of apples from the orchards here. There were a few sore heads by the end as trees literally rained apples when their boughs were shook. We have a variety of traditional Cornish varieties here from eaters to cookers and even some cider apples too. Some of the apples have gone across to the restaurant at Trelissick to be used by the catering team and the rest have been sold to Helford Creek for juicing and cider. The birds and sheep have had a good time making the most of the remaining windfalls.
It’s been a good year for many fruiting crops including blackberries and haws, this has provided a feast for all our birds and other wildlife giving them a much needed store of energy to see them through the winter. The sweet chestnuts also seem to be having a bumper year and there are more than you can fill your pockets with on the ground at the moment, roasting them over an open fire is the best way to enjoy them but remember to prick them first!
Traditional orchards have unfortunately become an uncommon sight in the British countryside, once the focal point of every community, they have declined by 60% since the 1950’s. Orchards are not only important historically and culturally but support a vast range of native wildlife including the rare Noble Chafer Beetle and the Orchard Tooth Fungus which rely entirely on the dead wood in orchards. This has led to them being classified as a priority habitat under the UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) and there have been many projects running across the country to not only restore old orchards but plant new ones too.
With that in mind, the Ranger team here at Trelissick have dedicated a 3 acre plot at Tregew to plant a new community orchard. It will consist of Kea plums along with some local Cornish apple varieties. The creekside meadows at Tregew already support a host of wildlife including barn owls, sky larks and harvest mice. Traditionally areas like this along Cowlands, Coombe and Lamouth creek would have supported Kea plum orchards where their produce was shipped up to London and elsewhere so it seems an appropriate site for our new community orchard. We have received a generous sponsorship for our first 6 trees which will be planted in the coming
months, this sponsorship covers the cost of grafting a new tree, planting, construction of a tree guard and the future maintenance of the tree. Next week we are taking some of the chestnut from Trelissick to be milled ready to construct the guards to protect the young trees from grazing animals.
This seems like an appropriate time to introduce myself, Elle Parsons, as a new member of the countryside ranger team. I have worked for the National Trust ranger team on the Lizard for the past 6 years and will now be working alongside the rangers here at Trelissick. This winter I will be focusing on Tregew community orchard and developing an area of community woodland. Please do get in touch if you would like to get involved with either of these.
More updates to follow soon,
Contact me at Pill Farm: 01872 870863