Traditional Orchard but on a small scale


Blackthorn a plenty

In late 2020, I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to create a small Orchard in rural Suffolk. This blog will follow my journey and pool together all the experiences, research and discoveries I have made along the way. 

Byng Brook Orchard is going to be maintained as a traditional orchard1 but on a small scale. The orchard is on a corner of a friend's farm and is about 300m22 and I hope to create something that provides some of the benefits that a traditional orchard offers but on a small scale. If this works to create a bio-diverse environment for lots of lovely creatures and plants then maybe I can inspire others to do the same with their little strips of land.

One of my inspirations for this is Orchard: A Year in England's Eden by Benedict Macdonald and Nicholas Gates3.  They write of an orchard in Herefordshire which they surveyed over the months of a year to see the flora and fauna that flourished there. An orchard like the one they studied is sadly a rarity in today's England.   The orchard of our past was a melting pot of habitats; dead or decaying trees, long grass, tough scrub, huge wild hedgerows, log piles, fallen fruit, boggy bits, dry bits.  A little bit of heaven for everybody's taste.

Now I understand that the food needs of the masses require us to farm in a way that provides huge amounts of produce at supermarket standards and the human power required to work the farm in a traditional way at that scale is nigh on impossible in the modern age.  But wouldn't it be a fine effort if our generation could attempt to improve our little bits of land by letting them be a bit more wild.  Allow nature to guide us. 

Perhaps it will take me years to arrive at the picture in my head of a scruffy but abundant orchard but it will hopefully be an interesting journey along the way.







Traditional Orchards are defined, for priority habitat purposes, as groups of fruit and nut trees planted on vigorous rootstocks at low densities in permanent grassland; and managed in a low intensity way.

 A whopping 20% of an acre!

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48836406-orchard


Comments

  1. Hi Blake - Have you come across Suffolk Traditional Orchards (STOG) and Orchards East? They are very helpful. I'm not too far from Byng Brook!

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