Bishopthorpe Community Orchard and Heritage project
This is a Heritage Lottery funded project which aims to highlight Bishopthorpe’s orchard heritage and create a new community orchard for the village. The project runs from 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2019 and the grant award is £8,900. The project is being run by volunteers on behalf of the Parish Council.
The community orchard site, on the edge of Ferry Lane playing field, has now changed beyond recognition!
It has been fenced and carefully prepared with the help of many keen volunteers and with guidance from Jonathon Short of Ainsty Landscapes, and has been sown with a mix of native perennial wildflowers and grass seed. It is very difficult to create a wildflower meadow, as wildflowers quickly get overtaken by grasses on fertile soils. But we are hoping a few wildflowers will grow: species like knapweed, ox eye daisy, yarrow, common cat’s ear, self-heal, red clover and vetch, which are a bit more robust. Yellow rattle will also help keep the grasses in check. In the first year we are not expecting any to flower, as the site will need to be cut regularly to keep on top of the flush of weeds – in particular Himalayan balsam which is abundant on this site. Himalayan balsam is actually not too difficult to get rid of as it is an annual species and seeds only survive for about 3 years in the soil. Last year it was hand pulled before it seeded, so only 2 years to go!
The orchard is big enough to fit in about 16 ‘half standard’ fruit trees, which will eventually grow to a height of about 4 metres. The Heritage Lottery grant requires 10 trees to be planted by the end of October, when the project ends. This is not great timing for planting fruit trees which are supplied as ‘bare root’. However, we have found a way round it by buying 1-year old trees this winter from Roger’s Nursery in Pickering and potting them up. They will be looked after by Brunswick Organic Nursery over the summer.
There has been a lot of interest in the varieties of old fruit trees found in the village, and we are keen for the new trees to reflect that (as well as be tasty to eat!). The varieties we have bought are:
- Ellison’s Orange
- Lord Lambourne
- Peasgood Nonsuch
- Belle de Boskoop
- James Grieve
- Worcester Permain
- Beurre Hardy
This leaves scope for about 6 more, which may well include some plums. This time next year the first blossom should be showing!
For more information about the project, including the newsletter and forthcoming events, please visit www.bishopthorpe.net. To contact the project please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07563 798408.
You can read the June Newsletter here