The benefits of orchards and fruit growing go beyond the environment. They promote general wellness, improve physical health, and create fruitful relationships with the community.
Earlier this autumn, the first apples at Ewhurst Park were ready to be picked! Blooming at the beginning of July, our orchards have progressed substantially over the past few months. As I reminiscence on their growth, I start to think of the role orchards play in our local community and our larger ecosystem.
At the beginning of our time at Ewhurst, our team decided to include apple orchards throughout the estate. We have fully grown apple orchards in our Main House Garden and planted a new apple orchard from saplings earlier this year! While it will be another five years until these saplings produce apples and thus, are ready to be picked, we are content to do our apple picking at the Main House Garden in the meantime.
The goal of this endeavor is to provide fresh, sustainable fruit to the local community. Using regenerative techniques, individuals can witness first-hand the effectiveness of this sustainable practice.
While diversifying our current Main House Garden, we additionally choose to plant a new apple orchard at Ewhurst due to its longevity as a crop. Did you know that apple trees can live for over 100 years? During this lifetime, a single tree can produce thousands of apples. They provide a high yield of fruit per season and require little maintenance once the tree has grown. Unlike other annual-yielding crops, they do not need to be replanted yearly. Rather, the tree can sustain itself, immersing in its local ecosystem. By letting nature run its course, we can create a healthy and organic system. This is at the forefront of regenerative agricultural practices.
In the UK, orchards have been in decline since the Second World War. A combination of intensive farming, neglect, and a lack of interest over the years has meant that 90% of traditional orchards have been lost since the 1950s. With the growing popularity of traditional apple varieties and a recent boom in ‘craft cider’, it’s time to reverse this decline.
Beyond becoming a part of the local system, apple trees help our larger ecosystem as they remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Offsetting the global production of greenhouse gases, trees are an instrumental weapon in the fight against climate change.
Along with their positive environmental impact, orchards can better the lives of individuals. Not only do they introduce greenery to public spaces, but they provide nutritious, fresh fruit to the local community. As the popular phrase states, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Moreover, they provide an activity the whole family can enjoy – apple picking! This activity encourages individuals to get together and go out in nature. Enjoying the fruits of their labour, individuals can bond over this group activity, creating strong relationships and potential annual traditions.
Apple picking can also improve your physical health. According to an article published by Psychology Today, apple picking burns the same number of calories as walking at an easy pace. They note that even this short, low-intensity exercise can boost both your mood and energy levels.
As the apple-picking season continues this autumn, I highly encourage you all to visit and support your local orchard! Hopefully, we will see some of you here at Ewhurst Park.
Read more of Mandy’s articles in Sublime Magazine