Restoring Suffolk’s traditional orchards
11th July 2023
An exciting project, funded by the the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, to restore Suffolk’s orchards is underway in the historic Sandlings area of the county.
Many of Suffolk’s traditional orchards have been lost over the past 100 years. A huge loss for notably green and rich Suffolk countryside and for the many bird, insect, and animal species who call the orchard, and the unique habitat it provides, home. The orchards also provided an environmental benefit, capturing carbon, improving soil health and helping to reduce localised flooding.
Introducing new orchards to Suffolk
For the first and second years of the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, farmers in the East Suffolk Farmer Group were awarded £57,226 in order to create 16 new orchards in the Sandlings area of south Suffolk.
The new orchards have been planted in different locations to connect with existing wildlife habitats, such as established woodland and hedgerows, and a wide range of trees have been used – some of which have become very rare, including cobnut, walnut, and heritage fruit varieties.
What is the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme?
The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is funded by Defra, as part of their Agricultural Transition programme, and managed locally by the Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team.
It offers farmers and land managers in AONBs, National Parks and the Broads fund to complete projects that will:
- support nature recovery
- mitigate the impacts of climate change
- provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage
- protect or improve the quality and character of the landscape or place
Nigel Chapman, chair of the Farming in Protected Landscapes decision-making panel commented “The value of traditional orchards cannot be underestimated. They can support hundreds of species of plants, animals and fungi, they are a true sign of the seasons for us all, from spring blossoms through to an array of autumn fruit, and they can help satisfy the demands of any ever-increasing market for seasonal and locally sourced produce.”
For the 2022-23 financial year, the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme supported the farming community with grants totalling £233,654 for 14 projects in the Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Additional funds are available for 2023/24 totalling £345,443 and so far around half of this fund has been committed to projects.
Grant applications are open
Due to its overwhelming success, the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme has been extended until March 2025, and the Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team is inviting farmers and land managers to apply for a grant.
For more information or to discuss a potential project, contact Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer, Alex Dinsdale, on 01502 674630 or email AONBFarmGrants@suffolk.gov.uk