Orchard for the Fordhall Pigs!
This is a very exciting project for us at Fordhall. Our Gloucester Old Spot Pigs are all free-range. They are rotated around our ex-military buildings on the farm but the ground does get affected by the rooting of the pigs' snouts!
So, we have been thinking of ways that we can help protect the soil and improve the area for the pigs too. Traditionally, you would take pigs to a woodland or orchard to help break up and fertilise the ground. It is not practical to do this at Fordhall, so why not bring the woodland and orchard to the pigs?!?
Helped by a generous bequest from Linda Woolfe and family this project has begun. We are beginning to plant traditional and native varieties of fruit trees (so far mainly apple) in and around our pig paddocks.
In the spring of 2010, Keith Atkey, a wonderful volunteer and knowledgeable fruit grower from Market Drayton, helped us to choose and plant our first 6 trees. These have been boxed in by volunteers to protect them from the pigs and they seem to be settling in well.
We hope that when these trees have established they will provide shade in the summer, food in the autumn and organic matter to protect the soil in the winter, and in turn the pigs will provide their muck as fertiliser to keep the fruit trees healthy. It seems like the perfect partnership - now we have to wait and see that the pigs don't destroy our boxes and the trees...
If our boxes survive pig scratching this year then we intend to plant many more trees throughout the coming years.
You can see our gloucester old spot pigs and our new orchard on the Farm Trail, open Tuesday - Sunday.