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August 17, 2010

Fruitful times lie ahead

It is said that the best time to plant an apple tree was twenty years ago but that the next best time is now. This might go some way to explain why there are so many community orchards being established around the country just now. This local interest in growing fruit is being nurtured by a new group called Scottish Orchards which has been formed by local enthusiasts wanting to pass on tips on the how and why of planting, picking and harvesting their own fruit

The idea of Scottish Orchards is that it’s very down to earth, and open to ordinary (and often extraordinary) people. It’s meant for individuals to join rather than be a forum of groups, or representatives of government quangos and agencies.

It’s about helping people get their hands dirty and do practical fun things, to create a Fruitful Scotland. Involving children and families is a great way to ensure this remains grounded.

What’s next… ?

We think it will thrive if it’s useful to people – as a source of information – and as a “fellowship” where people can share ideas with people who have a common interest. We’d like to run a series of local Scottish Orchard networking events across Scotland in the autumn/winter – to allow people to find out how to get involved. We’d like these to have a wide geographic spread and be fun and quite informal. If you’d like to help host one near you, then let us know.Scottish Orchards will succeed if it helps people to grow their own fruit, builds on skills, and creates a market for Scottish fruit. We are aware of lots of great local growing initiatives and hope that we will be able to provide useful support and help them develop.

Aims of Scottish Orchards
• To promote all aspects of planting and maintaining new and established orchards in Scotland
• To maintain and develop the knowledge and skills used in planting, propagation etc. by sharing knowledge and research
• To help preserve the heritage of Scotland’s orchards by establishing a national mapping database of orchards and fruit varieties
• To encourage sustainability and biodiversity and improve the local and wider environment
• To create local networks and markets for fruit
• To promote healthy eating and access to locally grown food at affordable prices
• To promote the planting of fruit trees as part of community development and educational projects
• To provide local opportunities for volunteering and community involvement
• To encourage the integration of orchards into the design and planning of the urban and rural environments

We wish to make orchards and fruit growing fully available and inclusive to all regardless of age, ethnic origin, gender, social circumstance, or due to health or mobility factors.