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The birth of a cider orchard


231 apples trees (9 cider varieties augmented by some desserts, cookers and crabs) were planted in late March 2015 on an old, long-established wildflower and grass meadow.

The planning stage was a vital part of the process

Newly planted trees - March 2015

To stake or or not to stake - that was the question??

Our grass management team of 3 blackface ewes and 1 texel/mule wether were decanted (for obvious reasons) until the vital tree protection was installed - a task we hoped would be completed in two or three months...  In the end it's taken almost six!  It's a long story, but I (Gary) had to take an enforced two month break from more physical tasks due to an outbreak of Polymyalgia rhematica (no that's not the latin name of one of the tree varieties).

"Gonny hurry up!" Florrie one of our black face ewes
looks longingly towards the orchard.

Thankfully I'm on the mend and thanks to the meds and some extra hands provided by friends near and far (as well as our 3 magnificent sons) the tree guards are completed and the orchard is finally ready for the sheep again.

Our next task in the orchard will be the first pruning over the winter.  It'll be a few years before before we get a decent crop of cider apples but so far we're encouraged by the health and growth of the young trees.  We anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2017/18.

Stages of building tree guards.

  1. Order materials
  2. Use jig to mark out holes for posts (pinch bar and watering can are vital tools when forming the holes)
  3. Place jig above holes
  4. Position posts and drive in approx 50cm
  5. Screw in bottom and top rails
  6. Fit galvanised wire mesh ensuring good tension (helps strengthen the structure)
  7. I made a simple timber platform to raise the roll of wire mesh and the pinch bar was useful for keeping it vertical
  8. Completed tree guard

Now for the boring bit for all the anoraks out there (I'm now one too)...

Tree protection;
231 Rabbit guards
231 Sheep guards
693 posts
1386 rails
4620 screws
690m galvanised wire mesh
about 8000 staples

"Lambchop," our adopted wether is glad to get back into the orchard
with "the girls" after 7 months to inspect the job.

Comments (1)

Foragers' first season is now in full swing

Fresh Cut Herbs Now Ready for Harvesting

We are now in full swing in this our first season.  We're still doing lots of building work in the polytunnels (raised beds and irrigation systems), erecting tree guards in our cider orchard (a bit of a Forth Rail Bridge job) and developing what will be our cider house & studio.

The crazy cold & wet spring/summer has meant that many plants are quite late (especially the tomatoes).  As a result, we have decided to hold off on salad leaves until next year (perhaps we were a bit overly optimistic). 

Hopefully next season we will be approaching full steam with a wider range of products.  Please feel free to suggest anything you think we could grow that you need.

Gary & Jo McAlpine, Foragers Foods

Price List

Culinary herbs now ready for harvesting:
  • Dill  (75p/20g)
  • Dill pollen (90p/20g)
  • Fennel leaves (75p/20g)
  • Salsosa soda (land seaweed) (£2.22/100g).  A Mediterranean vegetable with thin succulent needle like leaves that grow on small bushy plants and is used mainly in Umbria and Lazio in pasta, seafood and fish dishes.  The recommendation is to cook it in boiling water until the leaves soften, and to serve while some bite remains (much like Samphire). It can also be eaten raw; it is said to "taste grassy and slightly salty with a pleasant crunchy texture.
  • Spearmint (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
  • Lemon balm (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
  • Salad burnet  (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
  • Rosemary (small quantities in 1st year)  (90p/20g)
  • Thyme (£1.15/20g)
  • Lavendar (£1.90/50g).  Also some potted plants @ £4.50
  • Hyssop (£1.62/50g).  The leaves and flowers of Hyssop have a licorice-minty taste, and indeed this plant is related to the Mints. The leaves can be used to flavour green salads, poultry stuffing (with sage), chicken soup, apple stews, pies or flans although should be used sparingly, as the flavour is very strong.
  • Sage (90p/20g)
Coming soon (download flyer):
  • Tomatoes (6 varieties) available Aug/Sept (£2.20/270g, £8.15/kg)
  • Small quantity of chillies Sept/Oct  (£1.50/100g)
Next year (download flyer):
  • French Tarragon  (90p/20g)
  • Borage & borage flowers (£TBC)
  • Salad Leaves (£TBC)


Please email your requirements to [email protected].  We are happy to deliver larger orders (over £25) free of charge to local restaurants & cafés etc.  If you'd prefer to visit Foragers to collect your order of fresh cut herbs, please contact Gary or Jo to arrange a suitable time.  Mobile 07939 517685.


Orchard Ready for Tree Planting

Our 2 acre field will soon be an orchard.  9 varieties of cider apple trees are being planted in the next week or so.  Better get the spade out!

With the windbreak/deer fence now complete and the sheep decanted to another area we are now marking out the location of the trees. OCD was kicking in so I think our lines are straight enough and spacing accurate using a low tech method with 5m measuring planks and sight lines.  All being well we anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2018.

Bad light stopped play, but managed to get almost half the orchard "pegged out"

All posts are numbered according to our orchard plan.

Prototype tree protection. Scratching posts for the sheep.

4 weeks of scratching and they appear to be up to the job. Time will tell.

Our low tech method of measuring planks and sight lines has worked well.


Forager's New Website

We have finally published our shiny new (and responsive) website designed by The McAlpine Partnership (that's us by the way). We like variety in our lives and farming and graphic/web design certainly gives us that! (It's good to have an excuse to stay indoors when the weather is bad).


Mobile homes arrive on site

Following completion of the barn and connection of the services, the next stage is delivery of our mobile homes.  In order to establish and operate Foragers effectively it's imperative that we live on site, so the McAlpine family is all set to downsize and move to Wester Balfunning Farm very soon.  A great opportunity to get rid of all the accumulated and often unnecessary junk we have gathered over the years.  A few trips to charity shops and recycling centres will be required I think.

I really hope that gate's wide enough!  (watch this video to find out)

Well done McCallum's Caravans - great job!


Help were stuck!