We are pleased to announce that over the course of 6 months we funded the planting of 1,500 fruit trees in traditional orchards across the UK, helping to safeguard these habitats for future generations.
Why are we giving out grants for traditional orchards? | Who is able to apply for grants? | What do the grants cover? | How many trees should I apply for? | How do I apply for the grant? | Suppliers | What next?
Why are we giving out grants for traditional orchards?
The future of biodiversity-rich traditional orchards depends on the conservation of these valuable habitat sites. Old trees with veteran features such as rot holes provide the best available habitats in an orchard, but we need to plant new trees to secure the next hundred years of orchard wildlife.
The change of orchard management during the 20th Century and contraction of fruit growing has lead to huge losses of traditionally managed, biodiverse orchards. Of the orchards that remain, our traditional orchard inventory shows that the most effective way of improving the condition of an orchard is to encourage replacement planting and filling the gaps in orchards when old trees inevitably go to the great orchard in the sky.
The grants we are offering will help fund this replacement planting for traditional orchards that are in need of new trees, either through covering the cost of the trees themselves, or the cost of rootstocks onto which existing varieties in your orchard, or a variety of your choice, can be grafted.
There have been thousands of fruit varieties raised and grown in the British Isles, many now sadly lost, the remaining ones surviving in people’s orchards around the country and in specialist collections. Grafting new trees from the varieties you already have in your orchard can keep these varieties going and can preserve local heritage in your own orchard.
Who is able to apply for grants?
This grant scheme is specifically set up to improve and protect traditional orchards as biodiverse habitats in the long term. For this reason the grant is open to any owner or manager of an existing traditional orchard. This could be a community orchard, an orchard you manage, or one that you own yourself. If you do not own the orchard yourself, make sure you have the landowner’s permission before applying for the grant.
To apply, you need to be 18 or over and have filled in a short orchard owner’s questionnaire, which can be downloaded from our website. This gives us a better picture of the condition of traditional orchards, enabling more effective, targeted action to restore and protect these vital wildlife hotspots.
What do the grants cover?
Rootstock and grafting materials
If you have old trees in your orchard that you would like to propagate, even if you don’t know the variety, our grant scheme will send you rootstock, grafting para-film tape and grafting wax. You can take fruit samples to apple days to get them identified and you may find your orchard is already planted with local, heritage or rare varieties that you can propagate yourself. There is guidance on the practical guide pages of the website describing how to select the scion wood (the variety being grafted) and how to graft these to the rootstocks. Rootstock will be supplied in multiples of five.
The rootstock and grafting kits will be sent directly to you.
Alternatively the grants can cover maiden (one year old) fruit trees on rootstock that produce full standard trees. Again, we encourage you to consider getting local or heritage varieties for your orchard which may be better suited to growing in your area, and would be help to secure their future. Apple days are a great place to discover and taste interesting and local varieties. You might need to request suppliers to graft your chosen variety onto vigorous rootstock for you. This will be done in winter when the trees are dormant, and will be grown on for a year before being sent to you for planting.
If applying for trees, we will contact you by email to confirm your application and let you know the maximum outlay that can be recovered from PTES.
Both the rootstock and trees will be for full standard trees as they provide better and longer-lived habitat for biodiversity. For apple trees this will be either M25 or MM111, pyrus communis for pears, Brompton for Plums Damsons or Gages and F 12/1 (or Mazzard) for cherries. Seedling rootstock is also acceptable.
How many trees should I apply for?
Our grants will cover up to four fruit trees per quarter acre of orchard, with larger orchards being assessed on a case by case basis.
Work out how many trees you want to plant or have space for. Standard trees can grow to about five metres, or double that for pear trees, though it is possible with a bit of pruning work to restrain the height. They should be planted at least eight metres apart. They might look tiny when you put them in but overcrowding can lead to increased pest and disease problems and poor performance as less air and light reaches the developing fruit. We recommend walking round your orchard and mapping out where you would like to place your new trees before applying, so that you know how many you can accommodate.
Below is the list of suppliers that you can purchase trees from for this grant. They offer good quality trees and a wide range of varieties, including trees on rootstocks that form full size trees. To keep the postage costs down and enable our funds to go further please buy all your trees from one supplier.
There are lots of old and interesting varieties available, so be adventurous.
How do I apply for the grant?
1. Make sure you have completed the orchard owner’s questionnaire so that we know the code for your orchard. It is important for PTES to account for the grant funds we award, and this is a great way for us to see where we are having an impact. Fill in the orchard owner questionnaire, download and post the completed form to us.
3. We will send you a confirmation email of your application.
4. If you are applying for rootstock and grafting kits, these will be sent directly to you.
5. If you are applying for pre-grafted trees, you will need to place your order with one of the suggested suppliers, and then send us the receipt. We will then reimburse you either through direct bank transfer or by cheque.
6. Let us know when you have planted your trees so we can update our records.
Your young trees will need to be planted and protected from anything that might nibble them, like rabbits or deer. Rabbit proof tree guards can be bought inexpensively online, or you can construct a barrier against larger animals. This could be anything from a wire fence supported by posts, to three wood pallets tied together around your tree. If your orchard is grazed, heavy duty stock guards will be necessary. Whatever fence you construct you should be able to get to the tree easily enough yourself to carry out maintenance such as weeding around the base of the tree, or formative pruning.
These grants are being awarded on a first come first serve basis, so don’t delay.
We’ll take down this webpage when the funds have all been allocated.