John Taverner, on the Economic Benefit of Planting Orchards

Section from 1756 (approx) map of the Herefordshire estates of Robert Sawyer – orchards everywhere! (via Woolhope Naturalists Field Club website)

If the benefite arising unto the common-wealth through the abundance of fruite were well weighed and pondered, there would be lawes established for the increase and maintenance therof throughout this Realme. Many countries as Glocester-shire, Hereford-shire, Worcester-shire, great part of Kent and Sussex are so replenished with fruite, that it serveth the poorer sort not onely for foode a great part of the yeare, but also for drinke the most part of the yeare. I haue knowne in those countries many men that have 12 or twenty persons uprising and downe lying in their houses, that do not spend most yeares two quarters of malt for their drinke (but onely cider and perry) and also do yearely sell great quantitie. And there is no doubt but in most countries in England there might be the like, if men would generally plant fruite, and notwithstanding take as great commoditie in effect by pasturing or earing of their ground as they now do.

John Taverner, Certaine Experiments Concerning Fish and Fruite (1600)

The economic value of orchards has long been recognised, as this turn of the 17th century author demonstrates, particularly if you turn your “fruite” into “drinke”. You can pay your workers with it, reducing your malt bills into the bragain, and then sell a “great quantitie” of whatever’s left – it’s a clear win-win! We just have to plant orchards. Lots more orchards. (Oh, and persuade the banks to start accepting mortgage payments in cider…)

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