I have a nurseryman in Somerset who grows the acorns on for me, so I post them to him once my ‘expedition’ is finished. He’s an oak specialist in his late eighties, and he’s great. In fact, he sent me an email last night to say that last year’s crop has an 80% success germination and the two years’ crops before that are all doing very well. So, there’s a production line, to ensure continuity of supply, with about 3000 growing presently I think, and around 250 at Nicholsons.
The thing I enjoy most, is when I go collecting acorns, I get to meet some really interesting people and get to see some amazing old places where these trees grow. I have really enjoyed exploring Britain.
Q: Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline, and what would you like to pursue next?
A: One of my plans is to carry on collecting seeds from every county in England. I’ve also now started with sweet chestnuts, and last year I visited ‘The Colossus’ West Sussex – the largest, sweet chestnut in Britain. It seems to me that we could all do with deriving more of our sustenance and nutrition from nature close to home, so a chestnut fits the bill splendidly. Acorns are edible too but require quite a bit or preparation, to leach out the tannins.
I would also like to explore creating oak groves around an existing special old oak, or small group of oaks, and start to connect and expand these kind of pasture woodlands. It also seems important to me that people can access these places, to contemplate or relax, and appreciate the healing qualities of nature in balance. That is another thread to this story, to bring us back to our birth-right – as after all, we are nature too.
I am in touch with some landowners, exploring the ideas of planting oaks of provenance from ancient trees – I have already been approached by one large landowner about this, and am excited to see how this will develop.