I’m not at all sure how it came about but as a small child I owned an apple tree. The tree was of course much older than I was and my recollection was that most years it produced a vast harvest of large green apples.
I suspect the scale of things was in fact much smaller than I remember and that the real reason I had ownership of the tree was that my elder brothers could then insist that I was responsible for tidying up all the windfall!
Having ownership of a single tree meant that any reference I came across in children’s books to an orchard immediately conjured up romantic images of large houses with extensive gardens, laden with fruit and flowers, where the sun always shone and the air was redolent with the scent of blossom. A place where there were adventures to be had and where there were large gnarled old trees just waiting for a boy or girl to come and climb them.
To mark our 10th anniversary the Cairngorms National Park Authority decided to create new orchards within the Park and invited applications from communities. Following a hugely successful campaign last year to find orchard sites, 18 applications were selected and most of these will have been planted by the end of this month.
The idea behind the orchards is to encourage communities to use their green spaces and become more sustainable by growing their own food.
Each orchard will contain eight trees, a mixture of apple, plum and pear, all will be heritage varieties that are native to Scotland.
Andrew Lear, ‘The Appletree Man’, has provided the trees from his Perthshire nursery.
The weather in the Cairngorms can often be harsh so he has selected particularly hardy varieties of trees to cope with the Scottish climate.
The project is the result of a partnership between the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the Soil Association’s Cairngorms Food for Life programme.
The Food for Life programme aims to increase knowledge, consumption and production of local food. Right across the National Park there is an amazing range of quality food and drink available which would rival the best to be found anywhere in the country. From salmon, venison and beef to cheese, beer and of course whisky.
In a few years we will be able to add locally grown fresh fruit produced by Cairngorms communities and primary schools to our repertoire of produce.
Maybe it’s time to think about investing in some new apple trees for my grandchildren to look after!