tree planting

Useful Apple and Orchard Links

Community Groups

orchard link There are two main Devon groups that provide a support network for orchard owners and enthusiasts: Orchard Link covers South Devon, whilst Orchards Live (prev. Save Our Orchards) are North Devon. They run a good programme of courses (planting, pruning, grafting etc.) as well as supporting cultural and social events, e.g. Apple Fairs, Wassails, tours and walks. For an annual membership fee you get a regular newsletter with details of all the activities (at bargain prices). There are also various pieces of equipment available for hire and of course expertise on hand to answer your apple queries.

West Town Farm has fine orchards under higher level stewardship and runs community events, usually with Organic Arts, celebrating apples and looking after orchards. In central Exeter, Exeter Community Initiatives have previously run the Mincinglake Community Orchard Group. There is an old orchard in Mincinglake Valley Park, previously of Polsloe Mills Farm (and before that a Benedictine convent). A new area of orchard has been planted by the group nearer the park's entrance in recent years.

Nurseries, Pruning & Identification

The original inspiration for the Online Pomona was the fine catalogue of fruit trees produced by ThornhayesThornhayes Nursery of Dulford near Cullompton. They have a good reputation for quality and reliability and contribute regularly to Orchard Link and Orchards Live events. Another good local nursery is Adam's ApplesAdam's Apples (Talaton Plants), who also have a good range with some innovative offers such as tree collections providing an extended season or for exposed areas. If you need practical help looking after your trees or orchard, pip&stonePip & Stone are a good bet. Operating out of the Honiton area, they can advise on planting, specialist fruit tree pruning, guards and training.

Apples are very difficult to identify purely by their looks. These can vary considerably on the same tree, in differing conditions and from year to year. As well as the appearance and taste of the fruit, clues that can aid an expert are things like the tree's growth habit, blossom season, fruit season, fruiting habit etc.

Unfortunately a lot of information about old devon-applesDevon Apples has been lost simply because nobody got around to recording it. To help address this we now have an interactive wiki celebrating and encouraging enthusiasts to collate and share information. Similar National initiatives include The Orchard Network, set up by the National Trust, as well as the Orange Pippin resource centre and forum.

Juice and Cider Making Kit

bottles For durable equipment to mill and press your apples, you can't do better than Vigo Presses. They are just up the road from Exeter in Dunkeswell and do everything including bottles, barrels and even pruning saws. Equipment such as this is expensive, but does last. I've got a domestic press and mill that remain in perfect working order after more than a decade of community events.

I also like Quayside Homebrew for brewing supplies, although I tend to prefer to use pure juice and real malt mashes as opposed to the extracts you get in kits. That said, they are a convenient way to learn.

Produce

A good way to help support local orchards is to buy some of their produce. If you want some of our lovely homegrown produce (pictured right), then simply get in touch on the email above. As this is the Links page though, I can also throughly recommend CourtneysCourtneys of Whimple, a local family run business keeping the old Whiteways orchards alive. They also do bottled juices (pasteurised, non-alcholic) made with real Devon cider apples. Also Little Bowhay (Devon Orchard) who do a beautiful range of chutneys and vinegars as well as bottled juice.

The Poltimore Cider Press are a good one and use predominantly Devon Sweet Cider varieties. This produces a much softer subtle sweetness than you'll find in even many good artisan ciders. I'm not sure you can get any more traditional or authentic than Brimblecombe's Cider or indeed the Killerton Estate cider, but Mark Venton and Berry Farm do a very good job. We're spoilt for choice really, but you won't find them in the supermarkets, you have to go hunting.

lovelocalfood I encourage you to buy direct from Shillingford Organics, West Town Farm, Exeter Farmer's Market (Thursdays) or Killerton Farmers' Market (3rd Saturday each month). There's also the relatively new Real Food Store and of course the Love Local Food mobile shop (van) that does a circuit around Exeter.