Harvest time for Growing Orchard Communities

  • Community Orchard News

 This is a news update about our Growing Orchard Communities project.

The Growing Orchard Communities project in South Devon aims to support local people to manage healthy orchards for the whole community to enjoy. It is run by Orchard Link, supported by the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It truly has been a fruitful year for the 22 community orchards signed up to the project with lots of workdays, training workshops and network events going over the last 12 months.

It has run its target number of 10 site development workshops and these have been very popular with volunteers from the member groups.  Activities to date have involved over 280 people.  There have been three successful, fun and busy network days on themes of biodiversity, produce and involving communities. These have been a great way for members to meet up and chat over ideas and development in their orchards as well as learn a few things along the way! For the Autumn event the Holbeton community orchard played host and there was a  great day cooking, tasting and chatting about all things harvest, produce and preserving.

A this time of year it has all been about the apples – and many of the community orchards have been organising and running Apple Days. 10 took place across the project area and many apples were peeled, bobbed, pressed, scrutinized and juiced! Members enjoyed a twilight workshop all about running an apple day which gave everyone loads of fantastic ideas for activities to do.

Fran McLoughlin – head at Sparkwell school said “ We worked with the local community to plant an orchard and host an Apple Day in the village hall. We really enjoyed and benefitted from being part of this and hope to continue to engage in this wider way again. “ The children said: “it was fun learning about apples”; “I loved making up our songs”; “I was proud of my poem”; “I thought I would feel really nervous singing in the hall but it was good and everyone clapped. “

 Nicky Bailey AONB Community Projects Officer said “We also went to Dartmouth Food festival  at the end of October where we were mobbed all weekend! People were so interested to see the press working and taste the juice made in the community orchard just up the road. The Dartmouth group had lots of interest form potential volunteers and ’Friends’

Another part of the project has been about the new Orchard Link website – which has got a new shiny look - and the webmasters have been busy uploading lots of great information sheets onto the digital toolkit page. There is a lot of useful information on there – from apple day activities to tips for bench grafting.

Looking ahead there will be a programme of group development workshops to run over winter and spring as well as  the next network event on 4th February all about Celebrating Heritage.