Orchard Project – December Newsletter

This National Lottery funded project aimed to highlight Bishopthorpe’s orchard heritage and create a new community orchard for the village on the edge of the sports field on Ferry Lane. The project was run by volunteers on behalf of Bishopthorpe Parish Council.

The funding for this project came to an end in October, and it was a fitting time to get the fruit trees planted in the new community orchard. 11 Scouts, and other helpers, planted out the trees on a lovely sunny afternoon. The orchard has been carefully cared for over the summer to get wildflowers established and weeds reduced. We hope the trees will thrive in their new home, and wildflowers will bloom next summer! Five more ‘bare root’ trees will be planted this winter. The list of varieties are: Apples: Belle de Boskoop, Lord Lambourne, Worcester Permain, Peasgood Nonsuch, Ribston Pippin, Flower of the Town, Ellison’s Orange, James Grieve, Discovery. Pears: Concorde, Beurre Hardy. Plums/gages: Victoria, Early Rivers, Gage Reine Claude de Bavay.

The project’s book, ‘Bishopthorpe in Blossom,’ is now on sale at Bishopthorpe library, Brunswick Organic Nursery and the Bishopthorpe archive in the village hall. It will also be available on loan from the library. The book includes photographs, interviews with local residents, information about local fruit varieties, and the fascinating history of the Archbishop’s walled kitchen garden.

We have been very lucky to have the assistance of experts from the Northern Fruit Group. In September, expert Anne Lee, visited the walled garden again and identified the varieties of the 8 veteran pear trees that still remain. They were once espaliers, trained against the warm south facing wall, and they are now tall trees: their blossom can be seen peeking over the top of the walls in spring. They include Souvenir du Congres, Calabas Bosc, Beurre d’Amanlis, Louise Bonne of Jersey, and Pitmaston Duchess. They still bear fruit, which would once have been considered a delicacy, grown for the Archbishop’s table.

Many kind people gave their labour and expert advice for free throughout the project. As a result, we had an underspend which we were able to add to our equipment budget. All of the project money was spent, and we purchased:

Apple juicing equipment, including an apple press for use at the Apple Pressing day. A smaller apple press for small scale events. Professional tools for fruit tree pruning, including a telescopic pruning saw/secateurs, loppers, and fruit picker. A wooden sign and interpretation panel for the community orchard. Metal tree tags for recording the variety of fruit. Magnifying glasses and ‘bug hunting’ jars for playgroup’s Forest Schools. Reference books about orchards and fruit varieties.

The books and the project reports will be kept in the reference section of the village library. The intention is for the smaller press and the tools to be made available on loan.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the project, whether it was sharing memories, giving time and expertise, allowing access to fruit trees and gardens, or participating in the community orchard and training events. You all made this project possible.

There will be a dedicated page on the Bishopthorpe Community website where we will provide information about the community orchard as it develops, and you can read the final newsletter here.

The project can still be contacted at bishorchard@yahoo.com.


With thanks from the Bishopthorpe Orchard Project Team

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