Orchards are a distinctive part of South Gloucestershire’s heritage, making a significant contribution to biodiversity, landscape character and local distinctiveness.
Some areas have distinctive fruit varieties. The apple ‘Eden’ was developed in Rockhampton and there is a plum variety specific to Frampton/ Winterbourne. The most important orchard sites for wildlife are the older, traditional orchard sites with standard trees, because these tend to be neglected and contain over mature trees of a variety of species including apple, pear and plum. They support many insect species and a wide range of bird and bat species. Modern orchards, often consisting of small, bush trees intensively managed with pesticides, are of much more limited value for wildlife.
An estimated ninety per cent of South Gloucestershire’s old orchards have been lost in the last 75 years. Old orchards mostly remain as small numbers of remnant trees and even an individual fruit tree can be an important wildlife and landscape feature. Today small managed orchards exist mainly in gardens, schools and community nature reserves and there are very few large commercial orchards left.
Orchards were included as a national Biodiversity Action Plan habitat in 2007. They have been identified as a local BAP habitat in South Gloucestershire because of the importance of orchards within the authority. The Action Plan can be downloaded from the ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ page. Historically orchards occurred throughout South Gloucestershire with high concentrations around Hanham, Kingswood, Bitton, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne, the whole Severnside and most of the smaller villages. Concentrations of orchards across the country have been found in Kent, Devon, Somerset and the three counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The concentration of old orchards in ‘former’ Gloucestershire (including present day South Gloucestershire) is therefore of national importance.
Orchards can be protected under Tree Preservation Orders, Environmental Impact Assessment regulations and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Organising an apple pressing event
Each year more and more communities in the South Gloucestershire are organising community events to celebrate the cultural heritage of apples and other produce that are grown locally. Apple days have grown in popularity and we would be delighted to support you through providing organisational information and help with promotion of your event or to run an event as part of the annual South Gloucestershire Discover Festival.
Community orchards in South Gloucestershire
There is growing demand from local people wishing to turn small parcels of land into orchards, where people of all ages can come and sit and enjoy the open space and reap the rewards in the autumn by collecting the free fruit. South Gloucestershire Council supports this popular movement by providing advice and funding (where appropriate) to enable groups to set up orchards in their area.
There are a number of community orchards already established in the area, supported by a network of local people who help manage them:
- Winterbourne (Frampton) Community Orchard
(managed by Mr Fruit in conjunction with South Gloucestershire Council)
Grid Ref: 366700, 181875 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS36 2AB
- Thornbury Community Orchard
(managed by Sustainable Thornbury in conjunction with South Gloucestershire Council)
Grid Ref: 364487, 191041 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS35 1JY
- Cock Road Ridge
(owned by SGC & managed in partnership with the Friends of Cock Road Ridge)
Grid Ref: Post code for nearest access point to orchard
- Wick Village Hall
Grid Ref: 370343, 172740 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS30 5RG
- Willsbridge Mill
(leased to Avon Wildlife Trust)
Grid Ref: 366469,170682 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS30 6EX
- Leap Valley, Downend
(owned by SGC & managed in partnership with the Friends of Leap Valley)
Grid Ref: 365429, 178265 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS16 6PZ
- Grimsbury Farm, Kingswood
(owned by SGC & managed in partnership with the Friends of Grimsbury Farm)
Grid Ref: 366349,173170 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS15 9SE
- Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve Community Orchard, Bradley Stoke
(owned by SGC & managed in partnership with the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group & Green Gym)
Grid Ref: 362507,182167 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS32 9BS
- Patchway Common Community Orchard, Common East, Bradley Stoke
(owned by SGC & managed in partnership with Patchway Conservation Group)
Grid Ref: 361365,182392 Post code for nearest access point to orchard: BS32 9DN
If you know of any other community orchards in South Gloucestershire we would love to hear more about them.
Apple orchard advice booklet
The popular advice booklet on how to manage apple orchards has been revised and updated. Containing useful contact details for suppliers of traditional local apple varieties, information on pruning and grant funding, the booklet is a good introduction to orchard management. The booklet will be made available at orchard events or by contacting the council.Is there anything wrong with this page?