COPSE conducted an engagement event, inviting Plot-holders to share thoughts on a new Community Orchard adjacent to their Allotment site. Despite heavy rain eight plot holders (from four plots) and several dog-walkers met with us. Concerns and queries included:
Who will manage the orchard;
Is the soil good for fruit trees;
Will the orchard attract undesirable visitors?
The retention of the existing mature oak and birch trees was also a concern of plot-holders and has been a common theme with much of our feedback to date. A second Allotment Engagement event is planned for late July, hopefully during nice weather!
During the week and following the recent warm, dry start to June, Gareth mulched fruit-trees at a VIVID Community Orchard in Wrecclesham using two methods. On half the trees we laid several layers of wet, soggy cardboard around the base of the tree to cover the ground vegetation and then spread oak wood-chips around the base of trees, as shown during the Queensway, Cranleigh event (see May Blog posts). We were also recently donated hessian sacks thanks to PACT Coffee and Haslemere Rotary. The picture below is a pear tree mulched with oak bark chips over the PACT hessian sacking.
A Community Weeding event at Queensway Community Garden Orchard had 13 residents helping-out, alongside Kate and Rhiannon of WBC Community and Housing Team (https://www.waverley.gov.uk/Services/Benefits-and-community-support). The team cut-back weeds along a 25m length of the site boundary, laying down wet cardboard and wood-chip to provide a ‘no-dig’ mulch. In addition, we cleaned-up the site entrance and looked for non-native plants, with three-cornered leek and lotus-tree removed during site clearance appearing not to have grown back (http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=132). Gareth was able to plant five common-spotted orchid plugs from a nearby development, otherwise lost to housing thanks to the help of CSa Environmental (https://www.csaenvironmental.co.uk/).
Over the May Bank Holiday weekend Claire (pictured), Gareth and Mark Gittos from Vivid Housing planted over 150 hedgerow trees at a Wrecclesham Orchard-space. Despite not being able to advertise the event with the local community, two families joined us and another resident helped us water the planted hedgerow trees. The Woodland Trust Wild Harvest Package (Blackthorn, Dog-rose, Hazel and Crab Apple) had arrived late, due to a computer glitch, but it is hoped the cold spring will have helped slow down the spring re-awakening. We cannot wait to see how the Orchard and Hedge will have matured by 2022.
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Gareth is an ecologist interested in conserving traditional orchards and heritage fruit, for people and wildlife.