Community support

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Description

Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers (ACV) is a student-led body committed to local nature conservation activities. It actively encourages town and gown interaction and a way to increase communication between the university and local residents with the group placing a heavy emphasis on local conservation projects. With over 400 members, this year, ACV were awarded 'Biggest Contribution (non-charity)' and were placed second in the 'Best Society' category in the Aberystwyth University Students Union Awards celebrations. Aberystwyth University has been chosen by The Welsh Perry and Cider Society to establish one of six Wales-wide Apple and Pear Orchards aimed at preserving the valuable, unique genetic resource that Wales possesses. The orchard will be located on the main University farm at Gogerddan which is part of the Gogerddan campus that focuses on agricultural research related to grassland and livestock farming. Orchards are an integral part of livestock farming systems in many parts of the country yet are not an established feature of farming in Mid and West Wales despite there being extensive small-scale orcharding activity in the area. A number of known locally adapted apple cultivars with names such as Afal Pethyre and Pig Aderyn are available in limited quantities and yet more trees are currently being identified, growing throughout Wales, through a Heritage Lottery Fund project awarded to the Welsh Perry and Cider Society aimed at identifying a unique resource of Welsh heritage apple and pear cultivars through DNA testing and comparing the results with the National Fruit Collection held at Brogdale in Kent. In total, at least 50 unique cultivars, have been identified and established on new rootstocks. Maiden trees of each cultivar, grafted onto a semi-dwarf rootstock, will be donated to plant and establish the orchard which will act as a valuable genetic resource collection. Moreover, the orchard will also provide opportunities for local people to get involved in orcharding practices that, with huge global commercialisation of the fruit industry, in the UK, are becoming a dying art.
ACV will play an important role in co-ordinating the planting and maintenance of the orchard involving students, university staff and the local community. With the help of expert members of the Welsh Perry and Cider Society, there will be opportunities to learn traditional horticultural techniques associated with tree establishment and maintenance using organic practices. In the medium to long term it is hoped that the orchard will be productive and provide produce for the university and local farmers' markets as a model for short supply chain systems, encouraging sustainability and an understanding of the importance of biodiversity in our food crops. From the outset the orchard will provide an educational platform for the university with accessibility to local schools and organisations with activities encompassing cross-curricular elements including ecological, life-cycle, nutrition and healthy eating, socio-economic aspects of rural life etc. Moreover, the proposed orchard site backs on to the Natural Resources Wales managed Gogerddan Woods with popular way-marked walking trails and will provide a superb outdoor living space bringing University and the local community together.
ACV is therefore requesting funds to help establish what will become a valuable local community resource. Funding will be used to purchase stock proof fencing for the trees, equipment to help in tree and grass maintenance, tree identification labels and orchard interpretive signage and educational materials and outdoor seating.

Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers/Aberystwyth University Students Union

Location: Aberystwyth SY23 3EB, United Kingdom

Aberystwyth University Conservation Volunteers is a longstanding University Society entirely run by student volunteers that brings University and Townspeople together to enhance the local natural environment: The link here describes a recent ACV project with testimonials https://goo.gl/pz443q