Worcestershire used to be famous for its orchards, for its apples, pears and plums.

Through changes in agriculture and global trade our orchards are disappearing fast. The Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project won £340,000 in lottery funding back in 2014 (as covered in this newspaper) to make sure there will always be traditional orchards in the Three Counties area.

Since then the project has renovated at least 34 orchards, involving more than 900 people.

Had the 500 new trees the project planted been in the same place they would have made an 80-acre new orchard.

Another focus of the project was to train up orchard “champions”.

An orchard is not just a field with fruit trees in it. It is also the people who know how to plant, graft, and prune trees and, of course, harvest the fruit.

The website is full of links to valuable guides through these skills, some of which can be applied to apple or plum tree in your own garden.

How you can do your bit to help the bird population

There are now 40 active champions who knew next to nothing to start with but are now experts and have spoken to at least 9,000 people around the Three Counties.

So far they have done over 1,500 hours between them, writing articles for parish newsletters,giving practical help and advice, baking and preserving and generally waving the flag for traditional orchards.

As opposed to a production orchard where the trees are pruned to be harvested, traditional orchards are no longer primarily to be harvested.

There is still a lot of fruit and it is picked and shared around informally, but the aim is instead for the orchards to be enjoyed by people and wildlife.

Sometimes this means keeping old trees not for their fruit but as habitats for insects, birds and other animals.