One of our very first practical projects saw 20 apple trees planted in the Ardgay area. (Read more about our Ardgay Apple Tree Project 2020 here.)
Following on from this success, we enthusiastically moved on with a hugely ambitious idea to make Sutherland self sufficient in apples! Yes!! In the middle of the covid epidemic!!
What a dream – to make Sutherland completely self-sufficient in apples! A crazy dream, we know!
What is the Sutherland Orchard Project about?
The Sutherland Orchard project is about providing single free apple trees for gardens, planting small groups of trees in communities or working with communities and school groups to develop community orchards.
Sadly we didn’t quite manage to achieve this due to Covid restrictions, and the project had to be postponed til 2021/2022.
Our survey, however, proved that there is significant interest in community orchards, school orchards and that many individuals want help to create their own orchards. We’re grateful too for the valuable feedback including highlighting the need to evaluate what already exists. After all, there is no point in planting new orchards if current ones are underused.
We also met some great folks who’ve been involved with planting fruit trees in the Highlands and those who have been involved in mapping Highland Orchards in the past. Hopefully we will be able to join forces and run a Highlands Orchard Conference in 2021.
Our survey simply aims to find out how many people are interested, where you are and whether we can gather enough volunteers to help organise the project and distribute and plant the apples in local areas. The project planting date would be in Feb / March 2022. We do however need to start now to look at funding options etc.
We have therefore re-opened our orchard survey form to move on, gathering more information on Sutherland and Highland Orchards.
Whilst we’re thinking of apple trees in individual gardens, we’d be more than happy to work with villages to establish small orchards, and are also considering fruit bushes.
The Sutherland Orchard Dream!
Ongoing, we hope to develop Apple Days where we can make juice or cider or even just share produce around the villages.
Our dream? To make Sutherland self sufficient in apples!
Please do get in touch if you’d like to join this project in a community capacity or simply add some comments into the survey form.
More about Orchard Ardgay
This was our very first project arising from the first Carbon Cafes, held in Ardgay. We discussed various project options from craft bags for local shops to home made moisturiser and finally settled on an Apple Tree Planting Project. We did initially think about an orchard, but considered that it would be best to start of with something less difficult. And so, we developed the idea of a kind of distributed orchard – planting apple trees in Ardgay and District gardens.
In Oct 2019, we were delighted that the Ardgay District Community Council approved our funding application from the Beinn nan Oighrean Windfarm Community Benefit Fund.
16 trees were purchased and allocated to the community. Some extras were also bought by individuals.
We were really lucky to catch a couple of hours calm sunshine on the 2nd week of February 2020 to hand out our apple trees. It was a great fun event – kind of like an apple tree flash mob. Old friends re-met, new friends made, family connections figured out and lots of laughs. Given the way the weather turned, we were really luck to be able to get the project completed. Of course, it will be a couple of years before we can actually enjoy the fruits of our labour. So… look out for our Apple Tree Day party in October 2022!! We like to plan ahead!