Cornwall Orchard Network’s Spring Meet up 2024

Sat 11th May, Kehelland Trust, nr Camborne
Part of the Kehelland’s Orchard and Blossom Weekend

We’re looking forward to attending the inaugural meet up of Cornwall Orchard Network, linking up community & private orchards, orchard workers and wildlife experts across Cornwall.

To register your place please follow this link: Orchard Blossom & Wildlife Weekend Tickets, Camborne | Eventbrite

Creating abundance of fruit in our communities, using free and low cost approaches.

We are passionate about helping to create fruit abundance and resilience in our community. The more opportunities for sharing and connecting in order to make this happen, the more likely this will be successful.

Here are some useful ways to do this:

1. Scion exchanges
We’re joining the Community RiseUp 5th Annual Seed Swap at Mount Pleasant Eco Park nr Porthtowan, on Sat 3rd Feb 2024 with a small collection of scion wood varieties to share for those who want to graft their own fruit trees at home. Please come and see us, bring your own scions to swap, come and chat, or just take away what you need. If you don’t live close by why not set up a local scion exchange where you live? The National Trust at Cotehele sell apple tree scion wood from their Mother Orchard every year in February and will even show you how to graft it onto a rootstock there and then, in a 15 minute slot, for a fee.

2. Community grafting sessions
We hold grafting sessions to teach people the skill of fruit tree grafting – a skill they can take away with them and go on to create their own trees every year, for free. Get in touch if you’d like us to come to your community to share orchard skills.

Rootstocks are going up in price each year, currently at about £3.90 per stock if bought in small quantity, less if bought in bulk. However, this is still cheaper than buying a whole new tree that a nursery has grafted and grown on. Grafting it yourself also allows you greater flexibility than buying from a fruit tree nursery. You have full control over which rootstock and which variety to choose, whereas a nursery may not use a rootstock you prefer or variety you’d like. In addition, to go completely free, you could graft directly onto an existing tree, with no need to buy any rootstocks. Create a family tree or graft onto a hedgerow tree that you’d like to convert to something more useful. There are so many possibilities once you have the skill under your belt. And you don’t need to spend a penny.

3. Buying rootstocks in groups via orchard networks
Cornwall Orchard Network has members from all areas of Cornwall, if you’d like to link up with others who might be interested in purchasing large quantities of rootstock try asking others to get cheaper deals when bulk buying. Buying small quantities of rootstock is usually a lot more expensive, so it definitely works out more affordable if bulk buying with others.

4. Grow your own fruit tree from seed
As is well known, growing an apple from a pip is unlikely to result in an apple that resembles its’ parent – it could be completely different in taste, colour, size or usefulness, and the tree itself could be any size or shape as well. The diversity of genomes in an apple seed are huge. Regardless of this unknown quantity, it is still worth growing apple trees from pips. You might grow a really tasty or useful apple, more likely you won’t, but you can graft onto it if it turns out to be a strong enough tree. Not only this, if you plant and grow on pip grown trees you are adding to the diversity of apple trees out there which undoubtedly aids with pollination and fruit set, and increases diversity in the apple population. In the past, before the availability of commercial rootstock, people would do just this. They would grow apples from seed to create stock to graft more favourable varieties on to. We have been including seed grown apple trees in orchards for several years and encourage anyone to do so. Experimentation like this could be really helpful for the future of Cornwall apple growing – It’s also fun and free!

5. Take hard wood cuttings from apple trees that root
Whilst many apple trees won’t root easily from hard wood cuttings, some do. This is a successful method if you have access to a friend’s existing orchard, are linked to a community orchard or know someone doing some pruning. If the apple tree has burrs on the branches then this is a good indicator of it being able to root successfully. Take a branch cutting of 2nd year’s growth and place it in the ground like you would other hard wood cuttings from fruit bushes, for instance. Rooting should have formed by Spring. Place it directly where you want the tree to grow, with a stake for support, and you won’t need to move it once it starts rooting and growing on. This is useful if you wish to plant more of a particular variety you like, though remember your final tree won’t necessarily have the same vigour or disease resistance as the original, grafted tree. A list of useful own root trees can be found in ‘The Cornish Pomona’ by Mary Martin and James Evans and include the varieties Ben’s Red and Sweet Larks.

6. Top graft onto existing trees in hedgerows or gardens with useful or tasty varieties
A completely free method of creating more orchard abundance in your community. This method is pretty successful and is done at the normal grafting window just before bud break in Spring. Graft onto an existing crab apple, a wild apple, or an apple that you don’t like the taste of. Why not add a few varieties on one tree and create a family tree? Likewise you can graft onto hedgerow trees, including medlar and pear onto hawthorn trees.

Recent local & regional media appearances

‘Planting Hope for the Future’ at Trenoweth Communty Orchard, Redruth.

To read the full article download the file below.

We have appeared in a fair amount of regional and local media recently. You might have caught us on BBC Radio Cornwall last weekend following a visit from Matt Shepperd to the new community orchard in Redruth at Trenoweth Estate. Michelle from ROC along with local resident Shelley (who also volunteers at St Day Community Orchard) discussed how and why we went about planting an orchard there, what it brings and how it benefits us all. We also encouraged anyone across Cornwall who wants to set up a community orchard to do so, there is funding for trees from Forests for Cornwall and others, support, advice and guidance we can happily point you in the right direction. Listen to the show here

You can also read about the Redruth Orchard Project in the 2nd edition of the Redruth Life Magazine, see a copy of the article ‘Planting Hope for the Future’ above.

Last month we also featured on ITV West Country news.

Redruth Orchard Project Update Summer 2023

Members of Redruth Orchard Project & St Ives Community Orchard take part in a scything workshop led by Kevin Austin and Tom Waters of Skyegrove Farm, Cornwall

Scything the land
We organised scything training for members of Redruth Orchard Project in June run by Kevin Austin and Tom Waters from Skyegrove Farm, alongside members of St Ives Community Orchard at their site. Everyone learnt about the benefits of scything in place of strimming or machine mowing within an orchard setting. Not only is it far more pleasurable than using a noisy, smelly & polluting strimmer, but it is also a great workout. It is hoped that with what is normally considered a chore and therefore hard to get people to do it, it becomes an enjoyable, communal task that everyone looks forward to and feels exercised at the end.

Here are some of the reasons we scythe:

  • Earth-friendly – Energy from people, rather than burning fossil fuels.
  • More control – Can get close up to tree trunks or other obstacles without causing damage; allows the scyther a higher degree of selectivity about what is cut and how, and therefore more awareness of what is growing.
  • Health & well-being – It’s a pleasurable activity, quiet and peaceful, and can be done at your own speed, taking breaks to sharpen the blade at regular intervals. Scything is a good physical work out!
  • Rake up and remove the grass, which is often trickier with strimmed grass, as it is shredded into small pieces. Removing the grass on meadows helps to ensure useful plant populations are not smothered out, and reduces soil fertility, supporting wildlife flower populations rather than just all grass.
  • Mulch – Can use the cut grass as a mulch elsewhere on food growing beds.
  • Least disturbing mowing method – Ensuring any wildlife has a greater chance to jump aside as the steady blade of the scythe edges closer.

The Redruth Orchard Project now has 2 Austrian scythes to help manage orchards which have been put to good use recently at Trenoweth Community Orchard, Redruth. Thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work!

Here is a flyer that gives a little more of an update on the Redruth Orchard Project.

Redruth Orchard Update

Redruth Community Orchard Project
Update May 2023

Trenoweth Community Orchard, North Country, Redruth
We are two years on from when initial investigations started to find a site for a community orchard for the people of Redruth. It’s fantastic to know we now have 24 fruiting trees planted in the new space at Trenoweth Community Orchard; designed, created and managed by the community, for the community.

The aim has been to ensure this orchard is led and managed by the community with plenty of opportunity for experimentation to aid our learning as well as to ensure health and productivity of the orchard for years to come. We leafleted the entire estate at Trenoweth, North Country, Redruth and homes around the perimeter of the proposed space with an invitation to a brief open meeting to discuss ideas for a community orchard before any plans had been made. The reception was really positive and a new community group was soon formed putting ideas into action.

There is now a committed orchard group of local residents that has met regularly on Sunday afternoons since last Autumn. Many days were spent bramble bashing by hand, creating pathway clearings through the space to measure the site and record what was growing, assessing for wildlife habitats as we went. Each stage was slow and steady, allowing us to notice things about the space, it’s human users as well as the wild inhabitants, to help inform us how to proceed. Everyone involved, whether once or regular, has been so essential to making it happen with everyone bringing something different to the mix but all equally valuable. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable group of people involved.

Following an initial discussion raised at Redruth Town Council meeting back in September 2021 to propose the idea of an orchard for Redruth, the space at North Country was presented to us as an opportunity to develop. We worked closely with Meike Weiser from Forests for Cornwall throughout 2022 who developed an agreement that allowed permission to plant on and manage the land on behalf of the community. In addition, the Making Space for Nature Project (MS4N, Cornwall Council), managed by Melissa Ralph, helped us to fund and organise a visit from Cornwall Wildlife Trust to run a fascinating community hedge laying session in February Half Term 2023. Cormac were also booked in by MS4N to help clear some of the brambles ready for tree planting in March. All of these groups and individuals have been vital to getting to where we are now. Thank you.

Slow, gradual development of the orchard
We chose trees that we know do well and are useful, and included not only the most common fruits of apple, pear, plum and cherry, but also medlar, various fruiting hawthorns, and cornelian cherry. Along the North edge, away from overhead power lines are the largest and most vigorous apple trees with less vigorous rootstocks used further South. Having the overhead power lines at the Northern edge whilst also having to bear in mind the slight upwards slope Southwards, in addition to large sycamore trees to the East and West caused various challenges for planting plans but we got there in the end, and plans are still developing and growing (and being amended where necessary!…) It’s an ongoing project.

Some of our shrub layer include American elder, jostaberries grown from cuttings from previous years, blackcurrant bushes and rhubarb grown from seed. We added communities of bladder campion not only for the benefit of the flowers for pollinators but also for their edible leaves. Comfrey around some of the fruit trees has been added to due to it’s deep tap roots to help bring up potassium to support the fruit trees in their early years. A few nitrogen fixing shrubs have been planted including autumn olives (Elaeagnus) grown from seed over the past few years, but we also benefit from the planting of Italian alder to the East which we hope to maintain as a laid hedgerow. It may be that some of these polycultures develop further, but it depends on the interests of the main orchard group managing the space, and time.

Creating a climate-resilient orchard
Planting up resilient or forest garden orchards can take time when doing it slowly and steadily using cuttings and growing plants from seed – but it’s worth it to know many of the plants have been raised locally, with local provenance and genetics. Mostly though, it just costs so much less. Other ways of saving money include using ‘pitcher’ grown apple trees, which involves taking a hardwood cutting from an apple tree above aeirial burrs, rather than grafting; the process costs nothing, is instant and can be done alongside annual pruning. Not only is this saving funds and doing things sustainably with what we already have, but it also ensures a more mixed diversity of trees and propagation methods to ensure health and resilience within the planting system.

Some of the trees were grafted by Resilient Orchards Cornwall last year, as well as pitcher grown apple trees from this year. We’ve also managed to sneak in a local seed grown wild apple tree to monitor and feed back results to the ‘Some Interesting Apples Project’ by William Arnold and James Fergusson. The rest of the trees were supplied by Adam’s Apples and The Agroforestry Research Trust thanks to funds from the Crowdfunder. It is hoped that one seed-grown True Service tree (Sorbus domestica) will also appear there at some point – but we need to find a space!

Our ongoing plans at Trenoweth include scything to manage the orchard floor, installing a rainwater harvesting system and shed/storage container for tools, and working on building up the orchard group to help care for the trees and space. Mycelium connections are obviously on our mind to support the growth of the trees and biodiversity within the soil and one way we discussed to support these connections will be by using some mushroom substrate in some of our woodchip beds around fruit trees.

Trefusis Community Orchard, Trefusis Park, Redruth

In January we initiated a series of orchard care sessions at Trefusis Park to care for the young fruit trees planted as part of the Making Space for Nature Project (MS4N Cornwall Council) 4 years ago. We removed the tree guards and ties which the trees had outgrown and gave them all a good circle of mulch. The quince trees in particular were looking like they were struggling somewhat so we shall monitor them over the coming season. The pears in contrast were very happy. We removed a diseased apple tree but replaced it with three new ones, expanding the orchard a little. We also ran a pruning session there supported by the MS4N Project

‘Prederow a-dhann avalen’ Thoughts from under an apple tree

The last apple hanging (Photo credit: Tony Phillips)

Thank you so much to Tony Phillips from Klass an Hay for writing this and sharing some Cornish language with us. We really enjoyed the Cornish language session at Tehidy Orchard BioBlitz last summer and were really glad he agreed to write some of this up for us here. To learn more Cornish language with Tony see details below.

Over many hundreds of years Cornish apple juice (sugen aval) and Cornish cider (cider kernewek) has been made using apple presses (avalwaskow), with the fruit picked, crushed and then, for cider, naturally fermented. I’m told that approximately 36 apples are required for a gallon of cider, in a process which can take many months to mature. In fact, by the 18th century cider had become so popular that there are claims that many Cornish farm labourers received up to a fifth of their wages in drink!

Simply listing the names of some of the many local varieties of apple found in a Cornish orchard (avalennek) can begin to give us a real taste of Cornish (blas a Gernewek) and a growing sense of Cornish language, dialect and culture over successive seasons, with names like Cornish Gillyflower, Spiced Pippin, Cornish Mother, Pigs Snout, Cornish Pine and Snell’s Glass Apple for example.

The importance of apples in both Cornish life and language is also shown in the use made of the Cornish word ‘aval(ow)’ for ‘apple(s)’ (as used above in bold) from ‘aval briansen’ (Adam’s apple) and ‘menta aval’ (apple mint), for example, to ‘avalow rudhlos’ (russet apples) and ‘aval klyji’ (toffee apple).

Other fruit & veg have also been named using the Cornish root word ‘aval’, for example:

aval kerensa  –  love apple
aval paradhis  –  paradise apple
aval dor  –  earth apple
owraval  –  gold apple
lymm aval  –  sharp apple
aval gwlanek  –  woolly apple

which I’m sure you will identify as tomato, grapefruit, potato, orange, lemon and peach respectively. Furthermore, a pineapple is a pinaval or sometimes known as aval saban, a very literal ‘pine apple’.

As we come to the Winter Solstice & the New Year let’s not forget to celebrate the Apple Wassail. The purpose of wassailing is to ‘bless’ the trees to produce a good harvest for the coming year and generally takes place on Twelfth Night (January 5th), or sometimes on 17th January, known as Old Twelfth Night.

Whilst ceremonies of each wassail can vary from community to community they do usually involve bonfires, singing, dancing & drinking mulled cider, and often with a hearty verse and more of the ‘Cornish Wassail Song’:

Wassailing at Kehellend Horticultural Trust 2019(?)

“….. Now Christmas is comen and New Year begin,

Pray open your door and let us come in …..

….. We hope that your apple trees will prosper and bear

And bring forth good cider when we come next year …..”

Finally, as a child, I do remember being told more than once : ‘aval pub-dydh ……..’ / an apple a day …….

If you would like to find out more about learning Cornish, from beginners to grade 4, then please visit our website or contact the co-ordinator, Tony Phillips, on for further information. Klass an Hay is based in Penzance but classes are currently run on-line on weekday evenings.

Redruth Orchard Project

We are appealing for £2,000 from our community to contribute to our Redruth Orchard Project that seeks to:

1. Create a new Community Orchard/s
2. Work with the local community to maintain & rejuvenate existing orchards and fruit trees.
3. Share traditional orchard skills, provide more apple pressing opportunities using the new community apple press, and other apple related activities to help try to ensure that apples grown in this area of Cornwall are put to good use rather than wasted, as part of our commitment to promoting food security, sustainability and community action.

Please note we have secured match funding from Cornwall Council’s Climate & Nature Fund once we have reached our target – but we need to be quick as the deadline is the 5th November.

Community orchards provide fruit, locally, for everyone. Most communities were surrounded by orchards in the past, but many of these were scrubbed out years ago. Today we see apples coming from all over the UK – and indeed worldwide – to be sold in our local shops when we could be growing our own fruit. Fewer food miles means we look after our environment and it’s cheaper – in fact – community orchards offer local, free food for all. Not only that, but they are spaces that are wildlife friendly and can offer important social spaces for everybody for now and the future.

For more information about Resilient Orchards Cornwall CIC or to collaborate please email

For more information about traditional orchards as designated priority habitats see People’s Trust for Endangered Species Traditional Orchard Project.

Apple pressing bonanza!

We’ve been out and about with the community apple press to venues in Portreath, Redruth and Camborne, harvesting local apples and inviting local people to come and help. It’s be a fantastic month for apples and apple juice making and we’re really thrilled to see everyone else as excited as us about the community tradition of apple pressing. First we joined Camborne All Saints Community Centre Food group where participants pressed the apple juice to go alongside their home made vegan pizza – the whole lunch was really tasty! Then to Portreath to have a community apple pressing session whilst other members of the community went out for a monthly litter pick. After that we had two very busy and productive apple pressing days at Food Troops Community Kitchen and Garden in Victoria Park, Redruth. We got through A LOT of apples, many hands meant it was a fun AND productive tour of the community apple press. We hope to take it to many more venues next year – would you like us to visit your community group or venue?

Don’t forget you can also borrow the community apple press see details here.

We’ve been working in partnership with organisations who have a long tradition of pressing their orchard apples – Cormac rangers manage the site at Tehidy Country Park, including the traditional orchard there. Cormac’s Senior Countryside Officer, Gavin Henderson and site Ranger, Stuart Croft have been running annual apple pressing sessions there for a number of years with the team of regular volunteers who help out across the site every fortnight. Following a period where they’ve been unable to press due to Covid, this year everyone was happy to get back to this much loved annual event. We took along the larger community apple press to try out to compare with the smaller one that is normally used by the team there: there were mixed views but overall the free standing press was easier to use – whether the quantity of juice increased has yet to be agreed upon!

Kehellend Horticultural Trust has operated their apple pressing production for many years making use of their vast range of apple varieties in older and younger orchards, plus esaplier orchards. They also offer an annual community apple pressing service for local people to bring apples in return for bottles of juice. Contact them for more information and their terms here.

New Community Orchards

Cutting back brambles at Trenoweth new Community Orchard space

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to gain land permissions to plant a new community orchard at North Country, Redruth. Redruth Town Council, Forests for Cornwall, Cornwall Council and Cormac have all helped get us to this point where we can actually get going! Hooray!

Work has begun by a group of local people and from further afield all keen to see this piece of land at Trenoweth Estate turned into a productive, wildlife-friendly, beautiful and social space for the community.

It’s been mostly clearance and planning at this stage, careful to clear in stages to allow for wildlife to remain onsite and be incorporated into the plans. We hope to plant a selection of fruit trees this year including Cornish apples and Kea plums but also gradually add more incrementally over the next few years.

A few other plans include gaining funding for water collection and water storage points for watering the new trees, composting facilities,

A few things we still need – woodchip! – for paths and for mulching the young trees. Please get in touch if you can help. Thank you!