Bowling Park Community Orchard
The covering of snow this morning did not deter our visit to the orchard, even if we were a bit late to set off.
Unsurprisingly (to me), we didn’t make great progress with the floor and door of the Apple Store, but it was very helpful to do more measuring, adjusting and chin scratching on site rather than in the workshop. The issues with the door revolve around the choice of hinge and how to avoid the obstruction of the straw wall verses the design of the door (weight, using materials we have or buying new stuff, or keeping an eye out for a door in a skip!).
However, it seemed a good day to clear some of the trees on our boundary so we coppiced the Ash by the Bramley and felled the Field Maple near the pond. Clearing these will help more light reach the tree and pond respectively.
Today we concentrated on pruning the apple trees.
Last winter we had to cancel a few planned sessions due to the inclement weather and some of the trees are getting too crowded. We took lower branches off Belle de Boskoop and Winston to help access to get under the trees. As always, we start by removing dead, diseased and damaged branches, though there aren’t too many of them. There is still a lot more pruning to do so we will return to this task in the New Year.
It was a chilly day, so the tasks of turning the compost heaps and digging out nettles were a useful way of keeping warm.
Today we applied the second coat of lime render, using up all our supplies but not quite covering all the walls.
We bought some more render on 26th November and completed the second coat. The final coat will left until the spring as we do not wish to take any further risks if the weather turns frosty. The covers will stay on for a few more weeks.
Today we applied a coat of lime slip to the outside of the apple store. Unlike when using the clay plaster on the inside walls, we needed to take precautions against the caustic nature of the lime render; googles, gloves and overalls. It all went smoothly (unlike the surface of the walls which are very lumpy indeed).
For those not involved in the render there were apples to sort, and ground elder to tame. We are weeding the stretch behind Egremont Russet and are thinking of adding more soft fruit here.
Today we applied the second coat of the clay plaster on the inside of the store.
We have a couple of tubs left which we will use on the rougher areas, and the final coat is a lime whitewash to help increase the reflected light levels inside (as well as acting as a herbicide and deterring rodents).
More weeding on around the orchard.
The event runs from 12-4pm.
If you wish to volunteer please let us know in advance. There will only be an early pick up at Culture Fusion (c. 8.30am), so it would help us greatly if you could make your own way there if you don’t fancy the early start. Volunteer tasks include putting marquees up (and down), helping with the juicing, teas and coffees and selling chutneys, apples etc.
Final site preparations for Apple Day, plus harvesting.
Today we had to postpone our trip to Sydenham Place Wildlife Garden as we needed to carry on with work on the roof of the shed.
The event is free, but without the generous donations made by visitors we would not be able to hire marquees and the toilet.
If you wish to volunteer at the event or helping to set up the marquees etc please get in touch in advance so we can plan transport and tasks.
Blossom Open Days 2018
Friday 11th May 11am-3pm and Saturday 19th May 10am-1pm.
You are invited to come along to the orchard to enjoy the blossom, have a look around and learn more about the orchard.
There will be the normal Friday Volunteer Group activities 11th, or you can just pop in for a cup of tea and a chat, or to have a go at some drawing or minibeast searches.
We are still a bit unsure what the blossom will do this year; a cold winter especially March, but a few warm days in mid April. The first signs of plum blossom were showing on April 21st. With two dates to choose from we can't go wrong...?!
Our first wassail.
We enjoyed our first wassail at the orchard at the end of January 2017. We'd thought of doing it many times, but never quite got round to it.
Sue led us in a few appropriate words around Belle de Boskoop, our most productive tree, but really it was just an excuse to have a social gathering at the orchard. We had a fire to get rid of prunings and hedge cuttings and it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and take stock of what we need to do to have a successful year ahead.
There are some key tasks to undertake; revamping the paths, benches and shelters, ongoing grass cutting, weeding etc. We need to create more storage for apples. Can we make something (a straw bale shed, flowering roof?), or shall we buy a shed? We want to continue to increase nectar sources in the orchard so the bees are happy all year round.
How do we coordinate work days and harvesting visits? Interestingly a re-read of our management plan (attached at the bottom of this page) highlights the lack of any mention of the harvest! This is now a key task, and crucial that we plan it properly so that we make the best use of the apples.
So, at the same time as updating the management plan we will make sure this year's action plan reflects what we need to do and how we are going to do it.
If you have got any ideas, or want to get involved, please get in touch.
The management plan is attached at the bottom of the page. It gives an overview of the orchard; background, ethos, intentions and an outline of the seasonal work plan.
Please get in touch if you have any comments.
BEES has been involved in developing Community Orchards at Bowling Park Allotments, Redcliffe (Keighley) and in many school grounds.
We see them as a place to grow fruit, develop wildlife habitats and create sociable urban green space.
Orchard cultivation nationally has declined by 57% since 1950. Community Orchards offer the opportunity to counteract this decline whilst learning and sharing fruit growing skills and growing varieties that are distinctive of our locality and that we cannot readily buy elsewhere. They offer space for wildlife and for the community to celebrate and enjoy the harvest and heritage surrounding fruit growing and its use.
The orchard is developed on six disused allotment plots adjacent to Bowling Park.
In March 2003 we planted over 40 trees including
- 35 varieties of apple,
- 6 pears and
- 4 plums.
The orchard is managed by BEES conservation volunteers and we have established the Friends of Bowling Park Community Orchard who we hope will take responsibility for the orchard into the future. New members are welcome - please contact BEES if you wish to find out more.