Current Forestry Commission Woodland and DEFRA grants exclude fruit trees because it is deemed as produce, however, they are extremely important for bird, bee and insect life. Here at Moonfleet Farm, we are bucking the trend without subsidy and have planted over 100 fruit trees (instead of the usual rowan, alder, ash, birch, oak etc.).
This not just for the benefit of the environment but also to supply the farm residents with self-grown produce. In addition, a variety of cider apple trees have been planted for the production of cider. Other fruit varieties are conference pears, cherry, Victoria plum.
The orchard is situated in a remote sheltered position with hawthorn, willow and hazel hedgerows on four sides. The spring of 2011 was exceptionally dry; however, most of the new saplings survived well, particularly the pears which have really shown healthy growth during the dry conditions. There have been over six new hives for native bees introduced to the farm and a further twelve are planned. These new colonies will stimulate the pollination of traditional farm produce and the very varied species of grasses and wild plants.