By Adam Cade
Orchard Blossom Day is a new annual event in recognition of the beauty, bounty and biodiversity of orchard fruit trees. It encourages orchard groups and managers to organise Orchard Blossom events during their own blossom time, perhaps as a seasonal complement to wassail and Apple Day events.
Few sights in the UK are as uplifting or evocative as fruit tree boughs heavy with spring blossom, and nowhere is this more in evidence than in orchards. Partly man-made and partly natural, orchards are a meeting point of both worlds. Traditionally managed orchards are a key feature of the British landscape, however numbers have dwindled since the 1950’s with only around 10% left. Yet, they provide a key habitat for rare and declining species and are abundant in biodiversity. So Orchard Blossom Day aims to increase awareness of these historical and biologically rich spaces and promote their wide range of products, whether it is cider, honey, chutney or fruit leathers.
Last year 53 orchards participated and we are now aiming to at least double that number in 2024 with orchard events from March to early May depending on the region and fruit tree species. Like Apple Day there is a single date when Orchard Blossom Day will be promoted nationally, alongside European Orchard Day – the last Friday of April. Its aim is to interest a wide range of the public in the multiple values of traditional and community orchards at blossom time, considering not only the value of the produce, but also its beauty in the landscape, biodiversity and ecotourism values. Orchard Blossom Day is working closely alongside the National Trust’s Blossom project where many of their properties will be celebrating orchard blossom, as well as working closely with urban and other projects to promote blossom events more widely. So it’s a great opportunity for WWOOF UK hosts to open their orchards to their local communities, or for WWOOFers to visit the participating orchards.
Participating orchards have ranged from traditional perry pear orchards to agroforestry systems and small community orchards. Visitors may be invited to picnic, listen to community choirs, join a bioblitz or tour of the orchard, listen to storytellers, local poets and musicians or just purchase fruit or honey products. Many of the activities that could be offered, as well as guidance for orchard groups/managers about how they could participate can be found here.
Adam Cade is the Director of SustEd, a social enterprise which he established in 2009; SustEd are members of the Orchard Network partnership. Former staff team member and host in Rutland since 2011 Adam is an active member of the Stamford Community Orchard. You can find out more about what Adam gets up to on his smallholding here.
Photos by Adam Cade with thanks.