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Central Core Orchards Network :: Introduction
The Central Core Orchard Network was set up in 1998 in response to the greatly increased number of enquiries by both orchard owners and the general public. The resurgence of interest had been building steadily throughout the 1990s, but all the focus for orchards within the UK was in England. All the management advice for orchards came from "down south", all the good ideas for community and school input into new orchards or the safeguarding of existing orchards came from the south. Yet it was obvious Scotland already had a very rich heritage in apple, pear and plum orchards and its own important historic varieties. Worryingly - many of the orchards in Scotland (as elsewhere in the UK) were being neglected or worse, built on, or just felled because they were old and unproductive. They were not remotely valued, either for their fruit or the wildlife that uses such an important mosaic "habitat".

In the past decade, however, many groups have set up their own projects or initiatives, seminars and workshops have taken place all over Scotland and, more recently, Festivals and special events have started to take place. I think we can safely say that the focus for our orchards now most definitely rests in Scotland!

The purpose of the Central Core Orchard Network is to highlight the many groups and individuals who are playing a pivotal part in safeguarding our orchard heritage. Please use this website as an "information hub", a springboard to other websites or to find out what is going on throughout Scotland. If you have a project that is not featured on these pages, please let us know. If you have an event you would like publicised, please let us know. If you have suggestions to improve the website - again please let us know! That's what "networking" is all about.

As you explore these pages and the many pages on other organisation's websites, one thing becomes clear. Orchards are many things to many people. The new orchards being enthusiastically planted by local communities and schools, as well as on local authority greenspace and in hospital grounds will, in a very short time produce fruit that needs to utilised. This opens doors to being part of Local Food / Local Wellbeing Initiatives, will encourage restaurants, schools, care homes and hospitals to use the variety of produce in their meals, and has the potential to help the local economy for small-scale producers to "add value" to the fruit by making jams, jellies and chutneys, juices, cider and specialist alcoholic drinks, traybakes and ready meals.

There is now an increased need for advice on how to care for these new orchards, so look out for the many orchard management workshops and training courses that are becoming available. Soon, there will be a Scrumpers' Network to give essential advice on how to approach owners of fruit trees and orchards and ask them to share their bounty.

Mature or "traditional" orchards are being rediscovered, not just for their cultural history and their wonderful mix of biodiversity (butterflies, bumblebees, birds, bats, lichens and wildflowers), but simply to enjoy. New wassailing traditions are being introduced in the winter (usually January), poetry readings, singing and music can all be part of a visit to an old orchard (and increasingly to the newly-planted ones). Artists are discovering just how diverse an orchard can be and children are exploring the nooks and crannies of the orchard and making their own connections with them.

So - whatever your particular interest in fruit trees or orchards, please explore these pages - and the other website links you will discover on the way. You may like to consider joining our growing Network to play a part in revitalising this unusual aspect of Scotland's cultural history. Your interest and support will be greatly welcomed whether you own just one fruit tree, an old orchard, of if you want to encourage your local school or community to set up a new orchard.
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