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Review; The Community Orchards Handbook by Sue Clifford and Angela King

This review originally appeared in ‘Permaculture Magazine’

The Community Orchards Handbook by Sue Clifford and Angela King

  • Spiral-bound: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Common Ground (12 May 2008)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1870364260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870364263
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 16 x 2 cm

Common Ground have consistently championed Community Orchards as both a living celebration of local distinctiveness and a reminder of a more resilient age in terms of food security. In the days before our supermarkets became full of imported, tasteless Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious, we grew over 3000 apple varieties of UK origin, but what now has happened to the Norfolk Biffen, the Chelmsford Wonder and Beauty Of Bath? This wonderful handbook distils the knowledge and experience of the dedicated enthusiasts and volunteers who are preserving these precious genetic resources for a future when diversity and distinctiveness are once again valued.

Packed full of case studies and practical advice, the topics covered include setting up a successful steering group, advice on planning, planting and establishing orchard management regimes, through to attracting wildlife, utilising harvests and involving the wider community through events and festivals (apple pressing and cider making days can combine the latter two!) There’s also useful appendices containing specimen constitutions and legal documents, sources of grants and funding and plenty of contacts and resources.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about Common Ground publications is their high aesthetic standards, and this book is no exception. Its illustrated throughout with beautiful colour photos that in themselves are a delight to peruse, but at the same time the spiral binding and heavy stock paper make it a practical volume for field use.

Whether you are starting a new orchard or restoring a neglected one, this is an invaluable volume.

Graham Burnett www.spiralseed.co.uk

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