What are the economic impacts of the orchards?
Each orchard owner opened their books for us to assess the profitability of the orchard on a consistent basis. This looked at the income from sale of fruit, the value of any grazing or other rights, and government grants and deducted the costs of materials, chemicals, fertilizers, services and labour time spent in management.
We also considered whether suppliers of goods and services to the orchard were locally based to allow us to consider the impact of the orchard upon the local economy using the 'local multiplier effect' developed by the New Economics Foundation. Of particular note was the positive effect on the local economy of the relatively large labour force required for the eating plum orchard at Man of Ross where the fruit must be picked and thinned by hand. Our interviews with workers from Poland suggested, however, that the percentage of take-home pay repatriated home to support families and capital projects, which averaged 71%, was significantly higher than found by recent World Bank research: As one of the workers said, "Its all about the money".
Tourists visiting Hereford Tourist Information Centre, visitors to Bodenham Lake orchard, Tidnor Wood orchards tree sponsors and local hoteliers have all participated to develop an understanding of the tourism impact of each orchard.
Most people don't seem to come to the County for its orchards specifically, but for the general landscape of which orchards are a part - and few had noticed the particular orchards chosen for our study, even those by the roadsides. Using the 2001 Herefordshire tourism report, the value of annual spending that may be significantly associated with landscape features has been estimated as £130 million. The proportion of this total that can be assigned directly to orchards is hard to determine. However, since only 2.5% of Herefordshire's land is under orchard, it seems unlikely, given tourist responses to interviews, that the direct contribution they make to tourist revenue can be much greater than this. This orchard tourism revenue share of £3.34m can be split equally between the 3,006 orchard shapes on the Millennium Map and then weighted for visibility, accessibility and attractiveness using a subjective impact factor ranging from 0.1 - 2.