What do you do in your spare time? Read? Walk? Drink coffee with friends? All good things, but what about trying something different? A few of us from Littleton decided to try our hands at orchard surveying, having seen an email from Forgotten Landscape asking for volunteers. Not sure what we were letting ourselves in for, we headed to the first meeting to be taught what would be expected of us. Can you tell the difference between an apple and a pear tree, or even a mulberry, in winter? Well, with the tuition of Jerry Dicker we, allegedly, are able to.
After this we were let loose to go forth and survey. This we did taking our clipboards, survey forms and smart yellow tabards with us, oh and not forgetting the bent spoon on a stick, otherwise known as the Noble Chafer poop scoop! Apparently Noble Chafers are resident in decrepit trees north of the Severn, but haven’t yet been found on the south side of the river. So we have been set a challenge – find the elusive Noble Chafer (or at least its poo!).
Joking aside, we have been privileged to be allowed access to so many different orchards, some spick and span, others frothing with cow parsley – all wonderful in their own way. Hopefully our work will enable more of these lovely oases to be discovered and recorded and maybe even help them to increase.
The social side of surveying has been pretty good too. The whole group meet together to compare notes and chat, not exclusively about orchards! Our last meeting was especially special as it took place in Littleton’s own cider orchard and was accompanied by one or two glasses of home-brewed scrumpy. The outcome of this particular meeting led to me being volunteered to write this article…maybe I’ll stick to lemonade next time!