Butford Organics Orchards
We have three main orchards which provide all our apples and this year we expect to be self sufficient in pears as well. We planted two of the orchards ourselves and the other is a mature cider fruit orchard.
The Butford Farm Mixed Fruit Orchard
We planted this orchard when we moved to the Farm in 1999 and supplemented it with a few perry pear trees in 2004. It now consists of a wide range of about 250 trees. The main cider varieties are Browns, Dabinett and Kingston Black and we also have dessert apples, cherries, pears, plums and walnuts.
The Butford Farm Perry Pear Orchard
This was started in 2007 and should be completed in 2016. At present it has about 250 trees spread over 15 varieties sourced from local nurseries and from bud wood we have taken from old trees on the Farm and nearby.
The Mature Cider Apple Orchard
This has a little over 100 mature trees and about a dozen newer trees we have had grafted from the older stock which were nearing the end of their time. The main varieties here are Brown Snout, Dabinett, Pethyre, Somerset Redstreak, Vilberie and Yarlington Mill.
Excitingly the Marcher Apple Network identified one of the oldest trees as Sweet Alford which leaves only 2 trees still to identify – one of these even defeated the Marcher Apple experts.
The orchards grow with minimum intervention from ourselves. Sheep graze the Mature Cider Orchard in the summer and our geese and hens live in the Mixed Fruit Orchard. We mow the grass 2 or 3 times in the spring/summer but like to keep the grass reasonably long away from the tree trunks to encourage beneficial insects.
We have a number of beehives which are rotated around the orchards for pollination and of course honey.
We prune mainly for access and to maintain shape, remove crossing branches and to let light into the trees. This takes place as weather permits over the winter months.
We have retained a few of the older trees which have died for insect habitat and biodiversity.