Cherry orchards to have facelift

Once-famous fruit orchards in Worcestershire will be given a new lease of life as part of £4-million landscape scheme to restore the historic Wyre Forest. According to the Forestry Commission’s Gail Atkinson, project manager of the Grow with Wyre Landscape Partnership scheme, which has had funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Grant Scape and Sita Trust, three old cherry orchards near Bewdley are the first to receive attention.

‘Some of the trees are more than 80 years old. As well as planting new trees and pruning the old ones, we’ve taken cuttings, and grafting is enabling us to keep the local varieties. We were originally approached by locals who knew there was little-known but rich orchard history in the forest.’ The aim is to restore 15 orchards, using local varieties of apples, plums, pears and damson, plus cherries.

A crop-sharing scheme and juicing operation is being set up, as well as training days. The Wyre Forest encompasses nationally important oak woodland that is a rich haven for wildlife, including the noble chafer beetle.