Heritage Orchard

Heritage Orchard sponsored by the Environment Agency

In November 2019 we were supplied with 25 fruit trees to plant two new orchards on the farm.  The scheme was organised by Carly Kimber, the local Biodiversity Technical Officer for the Environment Agency as part of the ‘Pollinators in Gloucestershire’ project.  The scheme aimed to off-set the damage to wildlife habitats (following necessary dredging work carried out by the Water Authorities) by creating new habitats elsewhere.  We were fortunate to have suitable sites on the farm to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.  The tree supplied were all heritage varieties specific to our area.  The trees included apple varieties Ashmeads Kernel, Worcester Permain and Tewkesbury Barron; plum varieties Winterbourne Magnum, Shit Smock, Dymock Red, Old Pruin and Blaisdon Red; perry pear varieties Blakeney Red, Butt and Hartpury Green  and cherry varieties Early Rivers and Napoleon Bigareau.  Such wonderful names!

It was the wettest winter on record but we managed to get all the trees planted in the specified traditional triangular grid system leaving an average of 10m between plants.  The trees are grafted onto vigorous rootstock and will make large mature trees so required plenty of space.  All the trees were supplied with rabbit spiral and materials to make livestock guards as they are planted in permanent pasture areas grazed by both sheep and cattle.   The different fruit trees and different varieties will ensure that there will be a continuous supply of pollen and nectar from very early spring until May for pollinators to feed.

In addition, we were given two solitary bee houses to be sited in the farmyard and which, to our amazement were fully utilised by the Red Mason bee.  The bee houses had viewing panels so we were able to see the bees creating the mud cells to lay their eggs alongside pollen and nectar supplies.  We were able to watch the development of the larval stages right through until they spun a cocoon around themselves in which to hibernate and we look forward to watching them hatch in the spring. 

Find out more about all of the projects at Lower Hampen Farm on our projects page HERE.

More information about the Environment Agency here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

More information about the pollinator project can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-boon-for-bees-as-environment-agency-trials-pollinator-project