ARTISAN liqueur maker Raisthorpe Manor is launching a campaign to revive Britain’s shrinking damson crop.

The Yorkshire Wolds-based business is urging people to plant more of the forgotten fruit in an effort to save the “damsons in distress”.

Home to the UK’s first Damson Port, the company has launched the Damsons are Forever project by planting a new orchard of Merriweather fruit trees on the Raisthorpe Estate to kick-start the campaign.

Owner Julia Medforth said she and the team use the fruit from the hedgerows on the estate in order to capture an essence of Yorkshire in a bottle for its range of fruit liqueurs, and were concerned that without new trees being planted, this valuable crop may be lost forever.

“With each tree having an average lifespan of 50 years, once they die out we could be left with no British-grown damsons at all, and so they really are damsons in distress,” she said.

“We collect damsons by hand annually, from nearby orchards and gardens in the area, for our Damson port, and we want to see this rare countryside gem continue to flourish. To ensure damsons are forever, we’re planting our own so this neglected fruit is given a chance to survive.”