Working sessions in St Mary's Church Field Orchard
July - December 2018

Sunday 9th December
We had another successful work party in the orchard yesterday, with a good variety of tasks. Fifteen people turned out to benefit from a mild but windy morning, with a few sunny intervals and a couple of brief rain showers. Jobs included:
- Further identification of tree branches that will be pruned in January and February
- A lot of compost turning
- Finished laying the hedge at the south end of the bee enclosure, and finished off with a barrier of wooden stakes and some woven hazel. A start was made on knocking in posts along the other length of hedge
- Some small tears were visible at the top of the pond liner, and these were repaired. However, the suspected leak elsewhere in the liner is clearly non-existent, as the pond is now quite full!
- Some wildflower plugs were planted out in the meadow area and wildlife area
- The locks on the new shed were repaired and adjusted
- A post for the bee enclosure gate was replaced
- Some weeding of the pollinator bed

Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
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Sunday 18th November
We had a very productive work party in the community orchard this morning. It was a crisp, sunny morning, ideal for working! Completed tasks included:
A stake and tie was applied to the Lord Lambourne apple tree (the one near to the gate leading into the allotment area).
Circles were cleared around some of the smaller fruit trees, ahead of mulching later in the season.
Some fruit tree branches were marked up for cutting back during the winter pruning season.
Fallen leaves from the mulberry and quince were raked up and bagged up and taken away for disposal.
Hedges at each end of the bee enclosure were laid. The hedge near to the new shed was finished, and the other one was about two thirds completed.
Fallen leaves were removed from the pond.
Brambles adjacent to the pond were cut back.
A fire was lit, and existing prunings, today's prunings, and some other debris was successfully burned.
A superb new shelving system was constructed in the new shed. The whole shed was emptied, and items replaced tidily, making full use of the new shelves!
The water butt behind the new shed had toppled over. This was re-established on a base that has been re-designed, i.e. paving slab first, then breeze blocks, then the water butt. The guttering was re-connected.

Thanks to Paul Arthur
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Sunday 7th October
We had another very successful work party, with 17 very willing volunteers helping to prepare the orchard for the big Apple Day on Saturday 13th October. We benefitted from a wonderfully sunny morning, and mid autumn warmth, following a somewhat chilly start. A varied range jobs was carried out:

Many apples were picked, in preparation for juicing on Apple Day, and to serve along with the Ploughman’s Lunches.
The tree labels were inked in to make them clearer.
Scythes and the petrol mower were used to cut the grass around all of the fruit trees, and the grass raked up and composted.
The grass in front of the laid hedge was mown.
The pollinator bed was weeded and tidied ( a particularly large thistle was removed).
Some tidying of the pond, and the grass around the edge was trimmed.
Compost was turned, and one bay was emptied in preparation for receiving all of the discarded apple pulp from apple juicing on Apple Day.
The hibernaculum was tidied and made more visible, ready for curious visitors on Apple Day.
The bug hotel was tidied, and a few more habitats added.
The performance area was mown, and now looks pristine and ready for the entertainment on Saturday.
(Thanks to Paul Arthur)
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Sunday 9th September
A wonderfully sunny and warm autumn morning enticed a record breaking 26 volunteers into the orchard to complete a wide range of jobs. Achievements included:

- Juicing of 21 boxes of apples, previously picked in the community orchard by our dedicated tree team, produced 28 litres of fresh apple juice. The juice was then frozen, ready for use at future events that will be open to the public.
- A tear in the pond liner was repaired with a patch, and the liner re-arranged to allow a ‘beach’ to be created at some future date.
- The grass was trimmed around the pollinator bed.
- The wildlife area had previously been scythed and mown last Thursday, to enable the juicing to take place.
- The grass around all of the fruit trees was cut, with scythes and the petrol mower.
- Some well rotted compost was removed from one of the bays, and distributed on beds in the allotment area.
- The compost in the remaining bays was turned, apple pulp and cut grass added, and watered to help with the rotting down.
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Sunday 12 August: report from Paul Arthur
Despite the wet weather today, we still had a turnout of 14 active volunteers. Although the heavy overnight rain had ceased at 10 a.m., we had another heavy burst after our tea break, which put a severe dampener on things! Despite all of that, we did still manage a wide range of jobs, and these included:
We scythed most of the area of grass to the west of the hawthorn; there is just one final swathe remaining. We raked up about half the grass and added it to the compost bays, but as they were getting very full, we decided to leave three lines of cut grass in situ, for clearing up at a later date.
We collected most of the fallen apples and the majority were added to the compost bins.
Some summer pruning of the cordons.
A previously prepared rake rack was installed in the shed and put to immediate use by storing the four wooden rakes! 
A new lock, with key, was installed on the new shed (excellent work by Ian).
A metal ramp and concrete slab was installed for the new shed (Ian and Dan).
The guttering and water butt were fully installed (Ian and Dan).
Some further light trimming of the hedge between the orchard and allotments.
Some compost management, including adding the fruit tree prunings, fallen apples and scythed grass.
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Sunday 8 July: report from Ian Bark

A very warm morning, which made the session very demanding, and volunteers were flagging towards the end.

A slightly lower turnout this month with, at various times, a total of 21 volunteers present: David, Rita, Dan, Mitch, Anthony, Colin, Jenn, Steve, Christine, Rob, Michele, Lyn, Chris, Tish, Robin, Ian, Rachel, Jim plus 2 and a flying visit from Nick.

The list of tasks completed included:

Fruit thinning
Pond edge tidying and removal of blanket weed
Started to tidy the area behind the compost bins
Testing of the flag and pole – failed to find the hole and the flag!
Removal of hogweed seed heads
Harvesting of yellow rattle seeds
Watered the bog garden and topped up the pond
Started to install the guttering on the new shed, and moved and reconnected the water butt in its new position.
Compost turning – integrated some brown material and the contents of four drowning bins
Various general small tidying tasks

The dry weather has resulted in an ever-increasing mound of brown/dry material. The challenge this year is to generate sufficient green material to enable our compost making system to operate efficiently.

Volunteers enjoyed coffee, tea and biscuits courtesy of Michele and Jenn. A container of thawed frozen apple juice was sampled and enjoyed by many of those present and six bottles were sold.

Despite the challenging conditions – it was very hot – all in all it was an extremely successful session and the orchard was looking great as we walked away.
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