Orchards are a rich source of biodiversity. The three dimensional structure of the trees provides a wide range of ecological niches for animal life to occupy. As apple trees, particularly those on more vigorous rootstock, are long lived, this provides a stable environment for complex interactions between plants, fungi, micro-organisms, insects and other animal life to develop. Orchards typically include unmanaged wilder areas where nature can thrive.
Marshland Cider Orchards
Our orchards are mainly bramley apple trees which are around 100 years old, these are interspersed with some younger trees and some blocks of pear trees and other varieties of apple. We don't use any chemicals in the orchard, relying on the balance between natural organisms to keep our trees healthy. The orchards are periodically mown, to allow access to the trees for pruning and harvesting the apples. However, pruned branches and logs are left in piles around the land, providing abundant habitats for invertebrate life. The borders of the orchards and difficult to mow areas are left wild.
Many wild flowers grow around the orchard and these provide nectar for bees and other insects. The abundant rabbits (which inspired the 'Jumping Bunny' cider with their springtime leaps!) are a food supply for foxes and buzzards. Barn owls, little owls, kestrels, weasels and grass snakes feed upon the field mice and voles that dwell in the grasslands.
Other birds spotted around the orchard include pheasants, green woodpeckers, greater spotted woodpeckers, sparrowhawks, song thrushes, blackbirds, robins, magpies, crows, goldfinches, fieldfares, and many others.
Our avoidance of fungicides, pesticides and fertilisers mean that flora and fauna in our orchards is much more diverse than more heavily managed orchards. Our apple trees might grow more slowly as a result of this, but we believe that this makes the fruit more flavourful, and the warm glow from knowing that the cider has been produced in harmony with nature is priceless!