Learning ancient skills at Ketton orchard

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About 35 people enjoyed a rare sunny day in a Ketton orchard on Saturday learning about the ancient skills of grafting scionwood onto rootstocks as has been done for more than 2,000 years. They learned that this is the only way to produce some of the rarer local apple varieties that were developed and popularised by the famous Stamford nurseries of Mr Brown and Thomas Laxton. The workshop combined the basic theories of grafting and pruning, followed by a series of practical demonstrations and practice. All the participants took home at least two new apple trees, as well as the confidence to start both formative pruning on young trees and regenerative pruning on those tall, straggly neglected trees.

The grafting and pruning workshop organised by Stamford Community Orchard Group has now been organised annually for four years and has enabled more than 100 people to propagate and prune their own fruit trees, saving money and local heritage varieties. The charity exists to encourage people to plant more local varieties of apple trees and to keep traditional orchards alive and productive. All the evidence shows that the area of traditional orchards and number of local varieties for sale has been declining since the war especially due to international competition for the trade with supermarkets.

Adam Cade and Pete Seamer are pictured at the workshop.Photo: Lee Hellwing