Fruit trees, more than 100 years old, in the North York Moors are being given a new lease of life by Wildlife Trust trainees.
The trainees were given instruction in the care of fruit trees by Hilary Dodson of the Northern Fruit Group, at Appleton Mill Farm in Appleton-le-Moors.
This site, north of Sinnington, is home to several apple, pear and plum trees. According to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the village once provided fruit for Captain Cook and his men to ward off scurvy during long voyages at sea when they set sail from Whitby.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust trainees from the Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders project were given the opportunity to practise their skills and breathe some life back into the old apple trees.
Ms Dodson said: “It can be easy to get carried away when pruning but it’s important to remember not to remove too much in one go; no more than a fifth of the mass. A good way to gauge how much you are cutting is to keep a pile of all the branches for reference.”
After the session, Ms Dodson offered the team a glass of her home-made apple juice.
She added: “It is very rewarding to teach people who are interested. Some years ago I was disturbed to know that traditional skills relating to looking after fruit trees, such as pruning and grafting were in danger of being lost. I was therefore keen to pass on these skills.”
Tomorrow’s Natural Leader Ant Cox said: “I was able to gain valuable skills in the pruning of apple trees on the farm, I can’t wait to see the fruits of my labour come next summer.”
The pruning session also featured a traditional ‘wassailing’ ceremony. A few drops of apple juice were sprinkled on the ground by the oldest tree in the orchard: a Bramley.
Cath Hare, the Our Bright Future programme manager, said: “It’s brilliant that neglected areas are being given a second lease of life by Our Bright Future programmes such as Natural Leaders.
“It plays such an important part in bringing communities together and of course gives volunteers vital skills and real feel good factor as they make such a difference.”
Natural Leaders is one of 31 projects that make up the Our Bright Future portfolio, funded by the Big Lottery Fund.