Husthwaite has been known as the Orchard Village of North Yorkshire due to its history of growing fruit and trading the crops at market and with jam factories over the last 3 centuries. It is documented that the village traded with Captain Cook and the Whitby Whaling boat owners and a set of whale jaw bones were presented to the village in the 1800’s and were placed either side of Malton Street at the entrance to the village in a similar way as the set at the cliff top in Whitby today.
Many of the houses and cottages (garths) had large fertile gardens with productive orchards that became part of the economy of the village often paying the cottagers rent for the year by selling the fruit in the picking season. This fertility that the village still enjoys today is put down to excellent loamy soil and a micro climate that lets the village grow a variety of fruit like vines and apricots outdoor much farther north than is normal.
Commercial production of fruit peaked in the village around the early 1900’s when the fruit was often transported from the now defunct Husthwaite railway station or by lorry to the jam factory at Hartlepool or to wholesalers throughout the North East. By the 1960’s when the railway line was closed by Dr Beeching the orchards started to disappear or be grubbed up and the village’s unique heritage began to become history.
Orchards of Husthwaite began in 2009 with a project started by the village history society that produced a book based on photographs, recollections and anecdotes from villagers who were old enough to remember how the village was a commercial hub for fruit growing. On the back of the research and feedback from villagers it was decided to start a business that was run by volunteers to replant the village with fruit trees and commence making produce to generate a surplus to match fund projects within the village.
The first phase of the project saw over 1000 trees planted in and around the village and at the school with a nursery then started concentrating on Yorkshire and unique local varieties of apples to replace older trees and also to sell.
The next phase saw a cider mill established in the original 12TH century Saxon Manor house behind the church where we converted 2 byres and the old bull pen into a working cider mill.
Since 2010 over £40,000 of profit has been generated and donations have gone to a variety of project in the village some of which are listed below-
- A new door for the church
- A pavilion at the playground
- A heating system for the new village hall
- A village monthly club
- An indoor short mat bowling club
- Library shelving for the book exchange
- An A3 printer for the village hall
- Sponsorship of a number of plays at the village hall
- Stage equipment for the theatre group
- The Primetime indoor activity club
- School demonstrations on apple pressing and grafting
- Sponsoring and running apple day village events
- A new village noticeboard
- Painting the vintage village road signs
- Donations to the local foodbank
- Donations to the village youth club
- And a number of other one off smaller donations