Godshill is a picturesque English Village with a medieval church, thatched-roofed cottages and winding main street, boasting some of the oldest architecture on the Isle of Wight.
It can justifiably feel proud that it has within its parish boundaries the only cherry orchard on the Isle of Wight.
Back in 1992 the cherry orchard was conceived, planned and implemented by two well known, distinguished native Islanders and the following year the husbandry of the enterprise passed into the hands of the Medway Family.
The Medway Family, initially from West Wight, formed a partnership with the Pierce family and continue to improve the proud record of cherry production on the island.
Rob Medway and Stuart Pierce (with the support of their families) tend the orchard which contains about 5000 trees, varieties include Colney, Hertford, Lapins, Merton Merchant, Merton Glory, Sasha, Stella, and Sunburst.
We initially had a flying visit to the orchard at Easter but it wasn’t until we went back in the middle of May that the trees were showing signs of the juicy fruit.
Rob and his son Simeon took us on a tour of the orchard showing us the fruits of their labour.
These little fruits come with so many old wives tales and claims. Rob has researched these and published a book on his findings – “The Compleat Cherry”.
We all know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but Rob’s research turned up information that cherries may be even better for us. From arthritis to inflammation, eye care to blood pressure the cherry, it would appear, is a super fruit.
The cherry season is from the middle of June until the beginning of August, but with new varieties introduced this could extend the season by a further couple of weeks – good news for us not so much for the pickers.
Cherries need to be picked quickly and put into the cold store. They are picked in the evenings when it’s cooler then put into the cold room from where they are sold/moved to the mainland the next day – Fresh and Local.
After a very nice slice of homemade ginger cake and a cup of tea we were driven to a secret location on the Island to see their latest venture – APRICOTS. UK grown apricots. 1 of only 3 known orchards in the UK to grow apricots and the size of this orchard makes them the biggest apricot producers in the UK.
Back in 2010 they planted 10,000 trees but it would be a further 3 years before they saw any fruit – that’s a long time to wait to see if you’ve got it right but, with the assistance of the apricot growers in France, this year will see a harvest.
Simeon, Rob’s son, is in charge of this orchard and tells us it’s been a steep learning curve. He had recently gone through the orchard thinning out the fruit, which would appear wasteful, especially after a few years of no fruit, but it is a necessity to produce a tasty fruit for picking this year.
Apricots should be available from the 14th July and we will keep you informed as to when they arrive.
They will also be growing green gages and pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot) – so watch this space.