Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mistletoe, orchards: endangered?

The Guardian reports today that mistletoe may disappear in the next two decades, due in part to the continuing decline of traditional orchards in Great Britain. Fortunately the National Trust and Natural England have united to try and forestall this complex and alarming problem, by encouraging the growing of orchard fruits in "traditional" forms. To qualify as a "traditional orchard" there must be at least five trees evenly spaced, and they must be"allowed to grow gnarled, hollowed and eventually fall where they stand." These "unique habitats" provide shelter and food for many animals and other species and their loss may well irrevocably alter the British landscape, as in Devon, which the Guardian reports has lost up to 90% of its orchard in the last 50 years.

Of course, this is not "new" news. The Telegraph reported on it in 2008 (as did I). Websites designed to encourage apple growers in Devon and Exeter (which has many apple varieties unique to the area, like the "Cornish Pine" pictured) may help generate some interest in this enriching, environmentally useful activity.

If you're reading this blog, you know that orchard activism is my passion. I'd love to hear your own observations, stories and ideas for helping to preserve the beauty and utility of this agricultural tradition.

The orchard photo above was taken in Glastonbury about ten years ago, in the old orchards at the base of the Tor.

No comments :