Orchards: Are they inadvisable?

Discussion in 'Rural Diversification' started by Wild Carrot, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot Member

    They say that the number of orchards has declined 90% in this country since the 1950s ( https://ptes.org/campaigns/traditional-orchard-project/traditional-orchard-decline/ ). I don't particularly understand the decline; I am aware of some of the reasons, but are orchards really such a poor use of land?

    This guy here seems to have done alright for himself with his orchard: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardenin...urn-orchards-and-meadows-into-a-business.html

    One day I would like to plant an orchard...
     
  2. Steevo

    Steevo Member

    Location:
    Gloucestershire
    Every farm used to have an orchard. Now it's more of a specialist venture and takes a long time to return the investment.

    Do we need so many orchards? Like most things it's supply and demand.

    Cider is on the increase.....but planting orchards now you won't get the juice you want for quite a few years.
     
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  3. Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot Member

    As long as it's a venture that could cover it's own expenses and generate a small amount of profit, I would be interested in it. I have about 200K to buy land and invest into it. I have always really loved the idea of having an Orchard but I also often get the impression that many people these days consider growing orchards a fools errand.

    Waiting for trees to mature would be fine (I'm a patient person and I would be in it for the long haul if I went down the orchard route).

    I see so much doom and gloom news about orchards. But then every now and then I see an article like the one in the link and I think "Maybe there is a way still do orchards as a profitable venture".

    I am aware that if I bought pasture land and wanted to turn it into an Orchard, I would have to get permission for the lands use to be changed.
    Does anyone have any experience with this (changing pasture to Orchard)- is it there a reasonable chance that such a change of land use could be permitted?
     
  4. Steevo

    Steevo Member

    Location:
    Gloucestershire
    Do you neeed change of use for an orchard? News to me.

    Big downside with orchards is you're limited by your end buyer.....you need a contract. In many ways that could be good but there's a potential risk of boom and bust at times.
     
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  5. Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot Member

    I am uncertain whether you need a change of use for an Orchard (but I believe so?).

    There seems to be a lot of thriving cottage industries at the moment which instead of selling raw ingredients, produce a lot of their own farm shop style ingredients (juice, cider, chutneys etc). Perhaps even a fruit tree nursery dedicated to rare and unusual fruit trees...Longterm I would be interested into going into these sorts of diverse area's (having a little micro industry) rather than simply just aiming to sell fruit on its own.
     
  6. Kidds

    Kidds Member

    Location:
    Warrington
    You are talking about exactly what I do for a living. I am planning more orchards and no you do not need any permission.
    Won't get rich on it but after thinking long and hard about what I want to do with the rest of my life growing apples is what I want to do most. I was first planting apple trees about 40 years ago, still got them and a lot more since.
     
  7. Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot Member

    @Kidds That's how I feel about Orchards too (I know I won't get rich from the venture but I feel it's more about doing something that I really want to do with my life). I have been looking at a lot of options on what to do with land regarding my money and I feel that doing an Orchard might be my calling because;

    1. I want land.
    2. I love trees (especially fruit trees like apple and cherry trees).
    3. I want to produce food.
    4. I love nature and I want to give back to it somehow (and help preserve it for future generations).
    5. I want to get involved in a land project which has potential to diversify.
    6. I have always loved the idea of one day planting and owning my own orchard.


    I have no experience with orchards though (and so as much as it seems like something ideal for me, I don't have any real foundations/experience to base that notion on). On the farm I originally grew up on, I did help grow and plant thousands of wild trees (hazels, chestnuts, birches etc) and we did have a handful of fruit trees (3 apples, 2 cherries and 1 old damson). But the fruit from the trees was largely wasted (mostly just got fed to the cows lol) and I understand that growing trees commercially is going to be a whole different ballgame.

    I think that what I might do, is see if there is any work available at any local orchards in a month or two time and see if I can get a job at one. I think that only by working hard on a real functional Orchard, will I feel reassured about getting involved in trying to grow my own orchard.
     
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  8. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    Do you still have a lot of the older varieties if so I would be interested in some of your prunings so I can do a few more family trees and save some old varieties.
     
  9. Kidds

    Kidds Member

    Location:
    Warrington
    I do have some less common varieties but not sure that I have any that are in need of saving. I certainly don't have any that you can't buy elsewhere.
     
  10. Princess Pooper

    Location:
    East Mids
    Orchards are a long established example of agroforestry. Agroforestry is the new thing in sustainability. What goes around comes around. Traditional orchards are fantastic for biodiversity and a highly valued ecosystem. Trees are good for soil and water management. Modern cost pressures with an emphasis on food production alone are what has put paid to many orchards but they are a fantastic ecosystem service. Much more community interest in orchards now too. In parts of the country eg Worcs where I grew up as well as orchards, many hedges had fruit and nut trees in.
     
  11. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    Thats a shame I have most of the old varieties you can buy and I dont bother with modern varieties.
     
  12. asparagusbrain

    Location:
    London
    I totally share your passion about orchards and fruit trees. The thing is, what I have in mind looks like this: http://www.ancienttreeforum.co.uk/ancient-trees/british-treescapes/orchards/
    and what is a genuinely profitable enterprise (the ones I visited at least) usually looks much more industrial, with black plastic mulch, sun/rain/hail netting all over, dwarf trees planted in a high density way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but (I think) it will be hard to outcompete this model if you want something more traditional.
    Where I am from, they fatten poultry in orchards in the autumn on fallen fruits. It really does add a special flavour to the meat (although I think at the expense of the bird's health, all that extra sugar cannot be good for them).
     
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  13. Kidds

    Kidds Member

    Location:
    Warrington
    I don't think that is how mine would be described. They are profitable but the model you describe would probably be a lot more so.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    I am more a cordon and espalier person. Inspired by the Victorians.
     
  15. Princess Pooper

    Location:
    East Mids
    Is that birds foot trefoil underneath @Kidds ? Wonderful
     
  16. Wild Carrot

    Wild Carrot Member

    @Kidds Your orchard looks beautiful :love:!!

    @asparagusbrain As long as its not feed in excessive amounts, fruit can do chickens a lot of good as its packed with vitamins (and it also attracts insects which they also like to eat). Growing up on the farm, we fed the chooks lots of our leftover food scraps (not any containing eggs or poultry mind you!) and they really relished eating a lot of the fruit 'n veg scraps. We had a few exceptionally long lived chickens (the oldest was a rooster which lived to 13 years old!) and I think that the diversity in their diet improved their quality of life. They would go especially banana's over banana's lol!

    I have no idea what model I would adopt yet, but I do agree that the old style orchards have a lot of visual appeal & charm. If its viable, I would be a lot more interested in growing more unusual/rare/old variety fruit tree's.
     
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  17. asparagusbrain

    Location:
    London
    This is absolutely beautiful and thanks for sharing the picture.
     
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  18. Kidds

    Kidds Member

    Location:
    Warrington
    Yes it is. Most of the orchards are white with clover but that one is yellow.
     
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  19. New Puritan

    New Puritan Member

    Location:
    East Sussex
    Not far from me, there is a farm where people pay an annual rent for a given cherry tree. It's a bit like a "community supported agriculture" thing I suppose - see http://www.rentacherrytree.co.uk/.

    Looks like an interesting idea, but I have no idea what the demand is for this type of thing.
     
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  20. Daddy Pig

    Daddy Pig Member

    Location:
    dorset
    we have orchards next door growing apples for supermarkets, they seen to be doing ok but it's not nice for us with pretty much constant spraying all through the summer, very noisy sprayer running from 5.00 in the morning tell 9.00 at night and because they blow the spray up you we get bad drift over us, so unless you go organic don't expect the neighbours to be impressed.
     
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