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The Heritage Fruits Society at Petty’s Orchard

Petty's Orchard and HFS Block, as seen over Heritage Lake

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By Fred Surr

Petty’s Orchard, the last active remaining orchard in Manningham, is a relatively small part of a much larger orchard area once run by the Petty family. Since the property became crown land in 1981, it has been under lease to a private operator as an organic orchard and food shop, including a popular café. The orchard’s setting has a surprisingly rural feel, being directly adjacent to the Yarra River and Wildlife Lake (pictured).

In the early 1980s, about half a hectare of this property was designated as a block for growing heritage varieties of fruit trees. This area, now known as the HFS Heritage Block, has been managed since 2008 by the Heritage Fruits Society, a non-profit volunteer-based group. The collection was initially dedicated to old and rare apple varieties, of which it now holds over 250 - the oldest of which date back to the Middle Ages! But in recent years, HFS has expanded its scope with the addition of many varieties of other fruits, including plums, apricots, pears and medlars. It now ranks among the most significant historic fruit tree collections in Australia.

While HFS regards its activities in the Heritage Block at Petty’s Orchard as its main focus, the group’s greater aim is to conserve older and at-risk fruit varieties everywhere. It also fosters learning, developing and sharing the associated skills and joys, and encourages others to become involved as well. 

HFS runs a range of public events throughout the year, including:

• tree/budwood sales and grafting days
• apple tasting events
• pruning and grafting learning sessions
• guided walking tours

The next of these at the HFS Heritage Block will be the annual Tree Sales and Grafting Day, which will be run on Sunday 4 August, from 9am to noon. At this free event, you will be able to:

• purchase two-year-old ready-to-plant apple, plum or other fruit trees
• receive advice on which fruit varieties might best suit you and your location, and how to obtain and plant them
• buy scion (budwood) from an enormous range of varieties of apples and other fruits, optionally grafted to suitable rootstock
• see tree grafting being done by experienced HFS volunteers, who will be delighted to explain how it’s done
• join a guided tour to learn more about the collection

To maintain and extend its remarkable tree collection, HFS runs several open workshops each month. These workshops are free to all - everyone is welcome to join in, learn and chat

- yes, we’re a social lot!

Further information about these and other HFS activities are here: