First Taste of 100 Years of Clyde Valley Orchard History
For the first time ever, Clyde Valley apple juice is produced
For the first time ever, Clyde Valley apple juice is being produced for sale, drawing on a long tradition of fruit growing and market gardening in the area, once renowned as the Fruit Basket of Scotland.
The juice - grown, bottled and processed locally by the newly formed Clyde Valley Co-operative Ltd. (CVOC) – was aptly launched on Saturday 3 October at the sixth annual Clyde Valley Fruit Day at Overton Farm, Carluke, alongside food demos and tasters from other local producers and the Lanarkshire Farmers’ Market.
Visitors and locals flocked to see the apple to bottle process which was demonstrated by pressings throughout Fruit Day by CVOC with tasters available.
“A number of different apple varieties have been used to produce the harvest this year, the three most common being Bramley, Monarch and Granadier,” explains Duncan Arthur, CVOC. “The juice is golden in colour, naturally sweetened and freshly pressed. It’s a pleasure to launch the juice during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink when eyes from around the world are on what amazing produce is available on our doorsteps.”
CVOC are aiming to harvest three tonnes of apples to produce 1500 litres of juice which will have come from 12 different local orchards including one recently replanted community orchard at nearby Kirkfieldbank. Local orchard owners are also encouraged to make any excess apple crops available for pressing. All money raised through sales will be put back in to Clyde Valley community initiatives.
Currently, two bottles of Clyde Valley apple juice may taste different – some sweeter, some slightly bitter – depending on which varieties of apples have been used. However, as CVOC expands and grows, they hope to focus down on single variety juice.
The juice will be available to buy initially from five local outlets; Carraghers Deli (Lanark), Raes Stores (Lanark), Overton Farm Shop (near Carluke), The Orchard in Biggar, and Silverbirch Garden Centre (Crossford), but it’s hoped that it will be made more widely available as CVOC’s capacity continues to grow.
The launch of the apple juice comes as part of a wider initiative to revive the Clyde Valley orchards which have been a striking feature of the landscape for hundreds of years. Through funding from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and Rural Development Trust, the commercial sale of apple juice comes off the back of a range of other initiatives which focus on the sustainability of the orchards.
“Since 2012, over 600 new apple, plum and pear trees have been planted, 14 orchards have been brought into 10 year management regimes, 207 individuals have received training in various orchard management techniques from pruning to cider-making, and 21 local schools have planted and been given skills to maintain mini orchards within their grounds,” explains Chris Parkin, manager of Rural Development Trust.
“Individuals trained in these skills, which had been almost lost, can take them back into the communities where they’re needed to sustain the re-development of the orchards.”
Orchards are a prominent theme within the 70 CAVLP projects which aim to celebrate the unique heritage and cultural heritage within the Area of Great Landscape Value of the Clyde and Avon valleys.
“During the 19th century, the Clyde Valley was Scotland’s leading commercial fruit producing area,” explains Donna Marshall, CAVLP Manager. “CAVLP are promoting the revival of the orchards which are both a beautiful feature and an important resource at a time when consumers are appreciating local produce once again.”
The future is certainly bright for the orchards in the Clyde Valley. Look out for different flavour options, single variety juices and apple snacking products from CVOC in the coming years.