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 Cameron Smith   ‘The Husthwaite Orchard Project’

Mr Smith gave an enthusiastic description of the recreation of the fruit industry which flourished in Husthwaite following the civil war in 1640.

Cameron Smith, before retirement, was a regional director of a Supermarket & therefore was familiar with the commercial food industry, nevertheless reviving old varieties of Yorkshire apples & developing a profitable business from an interesting local history project was a considerable challenge.  He is also involved with the fruit & fruit products venture at Ampleforth monastery.

Husthwaite has been known for many years as the Orchard Village due to its history of fruit growing and jam manufacture.  Many of the houses had large fertile gardens with productive orchards.   

Production reached a peak during the First World War when fresh fruit was transported from the now defunct Husthwaite railway station. By the late 1960's nearly all of the existing orchards had been removed and there was very little evidence of the village's heritage.  

The local history society began a project to investigate the fruit growing past of Husthwaite, particularly the varieties of apples only found in Yorkshire. Plums & pears had been grown on the southward facing slopes of the Husthwaite glacial valley. The hardier apple varieties grew elsewhere.

This history project evolved from an academic exercise into a serious attempt to recreate a profitable business, firmly based on the unique heritage of Husthwaite. The Orchards of Husthwaite Co -Operative was formed in 2009 with the intention of replanting the vanishing orchards and using the fruit to make and sell a variety of products. The first phase of the project has been the replacement of the estimated 80% of trees that had disappeared. Hundreds of new trees have been planted in and around the village, in gardens, on common land & by the village school, with rare & ancient varieties grafted onto commercial rootstock. The second phase commencing in 2010 involves the production and sale of cider, fruit juice and related products. This  is now well underway. This lecture will be followed by the visit to Ampleforth Orchard on Tuesday 4th June 2013