The Wallon Agricultural Research Center (CRA-W), in Belgium, and the Regional Centre for Genetic Resources (CRRG), in France, are research institutes working together on the management of genetic resources since 1975. From their long-term collaboration was born a network that involve also producers and amateurs.
Historically the CRA-W has set-up a conservatory orchard with several thousand varieties of local old varieties and population of fruits (apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches and grapes). Amateurs and gardeners also contributed to the collection, bringing varieties, together with their description and history of conservation.
In the 1980s, the CRRG adopted the same model of gathering and maintaining a collection initiating a collaboration in northern France.
The two institutions started to carry out observation and evaluation work on their collections, in order to characterise the varieties and produce variety description, allowing thus their multiplication and dissemination.
CRA-W and CRRG, then, decided to set up a network of conservatory orchards in order to strengthen the conservation and to disseminate the varieties. The network includes orchards in the Walloon territory and others in five Regional Natural Parks in France.
Other outputs of their joint collaboration are: the support to the producers’ association NovaFruits, aimed at producing and testing varieties; the creation of a traceability instrument, “Certifruit”, that guarantees the origin and quality of fruit genetic resources; the development of a non-profit organization, Diversifruits, that coordinates initiatives in favour of the preservation of fruit diversity and informs, communicates and disseminates the knowledge associated with these varieties.