An apple orchard that was planted over 20 years ago has been given a new lease of life by an apple enthusiast student.
The 40 tree strong orchard has been a familiar site for staff and students at Duchy College Rosewarne for the last two decades and now, on the campus’ silver anniversary, 25 new trees have been planted.
Andrew Gunderson, Lecturer in horticulture, has been a staff member at the Rosewarne campus for 23 years and recalls “when we started looking after the 40 tree orchard there was no shelter built to protect them”.
“We have constructed artificial barriers and nurtured them so we can get the most out of the 20 different varieties,” he continued.
“However, the orchard is starting to decline in productivity and we needed to give it a new lease of life.”
With an amazing staff and student skillset on campus, Duchy were able to utilise the skill and passion of one of the mature horticulture students. Sally Pyner, 46 from Kehelland, is studying Practical Horticulture RHS Certificate Level 3 and studies one day a week whilst working at Kehelland Trust.
Sally has a passion for heritage apples and has spent a large proportion of her time recently hand grafting the apple trees that have just arrived on campus.
“Grafting is fairly labour intensive and certainly takes its toll on our knuckles and arm muscles,” she explained.
“We have discovered it is a job that is far more successful for us when done by hand using a grafting knife; it is a really satisfying skill to learn.”
Twenty five new, hand grafted trees were sourced from Kehelland Trust and include varieties that thrive in the typical Cornish weather including Bens Red, Manaccan Primrose and Venus Pippin.
“It was a real joy to hear that Duchy wanted to plant some of our grafted trees and to be a part of the team of students that planted it has been an added bonus,” Sally continued.
Sally, who has worked at Kehelland since 2002, started her RHS course in September after acquiring a wealth of experience in horticulture over the last 15 years.
Hesitant at first about returning to study, she wanted to fill gaps that she had in her knowledge and gain confidence in planting.
“The course’s hands-on experiences and learning are great, and gaining this qualification will help give me the confidence and skills to help me expand the horticultural business at Kehelland,” she said.
“This will further the charity’s objectives of supporting and training young people and adults with Disabilities within a horticultural setting.”
The apples harvested from the orchard every year go into making Rosewarne Orchard pressed apple juice. The bottles are for sale at the campus’ reception at £3.50 for a 750ml bottle.