Elmwood College, in partnership with The Forestry Commission have recently unveiled plans for a new orchard.
Elmwood and The Forestry Commission identified the need for a "Model Orchard" to provide education and training in Orchard planting and management techniques. This lead to The Forestry Commison providing initial set up costs and Elmwood hope to secure further funding from Scottish Executive Agriculture Department in due course.
The Orchard area is located on The Elmwood College Farm and has a total area of 0.73 hectares. It is fully organic and Soil Association certified and will be developed over three years. The first planting is complete and comprises 50 trees split between cider apples and desert apples. In addition a blackthorn/sloe hedge will surround the orchard, which was chosen for its biodiversity as well as the bumper crop of ‘Sloe's,’ which are expected to appear in a few years time. The perimeter of the Orchard is protected with a Deer/Rabbit proof fence.
Wayne Roberts, Section Leader for Greenkeeping & Horticulture, said, “The development of the orchard as a teaching resource for use by college students and the wider community is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that we can help to identify and preserve heritage varieties and develop new rootstocks for the future. As Scotland’s Centre for Production Horticulture, we can ensure that skills and knowledge associated with both fruit production and management help to support the national economy and assist to develop employability in the sector. The support and encouragement that we have received from partners and the industry have helped to identify that there is a strong need for this area of horticulture and we will ensure that we support industry as best we can.”
In the area not planted this year, Agriculture students at the College are about to sow a clover rich cover crop to increase the fertility of that portion for future year planting. The first fruit is expected in the Autumn of 2012, with major harvest from the Autumn of 2013. All trees have been chosen to be ripening into the College’s Autumn term to ensure the students are involved in the harvest.