An environmental community project reinvigorating a traditional island industry at a heritage location

The National Trust of Guernsey is pleased to be involved with the establishment of an apple orchard at its historic property, Les Caches Farm, set in the peaceful rural setting of Les Villets hamlet in the Forest.  This mid-19th century Guernsey farmhouse and barn came into the Trust’s possession in 1993 through a generous bequest by Miss Ruth Le Huray. Over the course of the last twenty years, the National Trust of Guernsey has fully restored the buildings at Les Caches under the guidance of the Trust’s historical buildings advisor, Andrew Dyke.

Evidence of an apple orchard at Les Caches appears on William Gardener’s 1787 map commissioned by the Duke of Richmond and, mindful of Guernsey’s established cider trade at around this time, the then apple orchard at Les Caches was almost certainly planted with apple trees suitable for cider production. A further clue to cider production at Les Caches was found in the form of a dismantled stone pressoir at a nearby property. Restoration of the ancient and derelict Cider Barn adjacent to the main farmhouse, was completed by National Trust of Guernsey in 2015 after which, the recently discovered pressoir was reassembled and installed on the barn’s ground floor.

To embellish Les Caches Farm’s agricultural legacy, an apple orchard will be planted on land to the South West of the property. The Channel Islands Co-operative Society as part of its ‘Keep Guernsey Green Award’, have sponsored the purchase of the trees comprising three varieties Browns, Harry Masters and Michelin. The varieties were chosen by James Meller, managing director of Guernsey’s unique cider production company, Rocquette Cider and Andy McCutcheon, representing Guernsey Trees for Life.  Free shipping and delivery of the saplings from the UK to the orchard site at Les Caches Farm, were generously provided by FerrySpeed.

Field design and set-out has been undertaken by CCD Architects’ Oliver Westgarth and Ben Hewlett. Essential land preparation, with the aid of a mini-digger generously provided by Mark Terry, has been managed by Richard Loyd and Colin Dodd committee members for Guernsey Trees for Life. Richard also volunteers with National Trust of Guernsey.

On Friday 10th February 2017, twenty saplings will be planted by Year Six Forest Primary School pupils, with additional volunteer help given by all organisations involved with the project.

Looking to the future, it is hoped that the fruit from these trees will be harvested by James Meller and his team at Rocquette Cider for apple juice and cider production, to be sold on Island and enjoyed at National Trust of Guernsey and Guernsey Trees for Life events.

In conjunction with Guernsey Trees for Life, The Channel Islands Co-operative Society, Rocquette Cider and CCD Architects, the National Trust of Guernsey aims to host annual open days at Les Caches Farm, for schoolchildren, islanders and visitors, showcasing apple harvesting techniques and the fundamental principles of apple juice or cider production. The icing on the cake, or better said, the demerara sugar atop the Gâche Melée, has been provided by Oliver Westgarth’s donation to the Trust of a delightful and ancient cider press which, when restored and installed in the Cider Barn, will complete an exciting exhibition space showcasing cider production at Les Caches Farm.

The National Trust of Guernsey is thrilled to have worked closely with four Island organisations in bringing this important community project from concept stage to reality.

Publicity of this environmental community project is generously provided by the aptly named Guernsey-based PR company, Orchard PR.

National Trust of Guernsey President, Tony Spruce says:

‘We are very pleased to see an apple orchard reinstated at Les Caches Farm and look forward to welcoming visitors of all ages, once the orchard is strongly established, here at this important Trust property. There will many opportunities to share the traditions and knowledge of the Island’s historic apple juice and cider production industry and we are indebted to The Channel Islands Co-operative Society for sponsoring the purchase of the saplings. Our thanks also, to Guernsey Trees for Life, CCD’s Oliver Westgarth and Rocquette Cider for providing the vision, knowledge and equipment needed to get this project off the ground.  The trees will be planted with much enthusiasm by Year Six Forest Primary School pupils and we hope they will visit us many times, over many years, as the orchard matures. We would be delighted to think that the pupils involved with the original planting may one day visit with children of their own and remember their special day out on 10th February, 2017.’

The words of NTG Past President Raymond Falla OBE resonate deeply with the planting of the apple orchard by the Forest Primary School’s Year Six pupils:-

We have a duty to save the things that mattered to us, to Guernsey, and which would be of considerable interest to our children and grandchildren … we must create in the minds of the young an appreciation of the countryside, the wonders of the seashore and the things that really matter in life.’
Raymond Falla OBE (1901-1991), NTG Past President.

The National Trust of Guernsey
Preserving Guernsey’s heritage for future generations