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Saturday
Oct132018

Community Orchard

On 1st December many villagers helped to plant 35 heritage apple trees for the Yarnton Community Orchard.

Each tree has been generously sponsored by a member of the village to mark a local family connection, commemorate a lost loved one or to just be part of something historic in the village.

It was a cold, rainy morning but volunteers soon got quite warm digging, planting and knocking in stakes.  It took about 5 hours of solid work but it was fun and we achieved a lot.  Some local children also got involved along with older residents who couldn’t physically dig but supervised some of the planting and had a lovely morning chatting. 

It’s been a year long journey to get the orchard project completed, fully supported by the Parish Council along the way.  The chosen area had to be assessed for any services pipework or cabling that may run under the land.  We then got in touch with Andy Howard, an Oxfordshire apple tree expert, who surveyed and mapped the area and put together a collection of suitable heritage tree varieties.

Yarnton has traditionally been known for its apple trees so we wanted to have a variety of local species that could be juiced, cooked, stored and eaten!  Some of the trees are quite rare and slowly making a comeback, helped by projects like this. 

In our orchard we have varieties such as Autumn Pearmain, Reinette Rouge Etoile and Monarch to name just a few.   Village residents old and new were invited to sponsor a tree on a first come first served basis, and organisers were overwhelmed with offers.

It's hoped the orchard will be enjoyed by all generations to come. It should become a place for family picnics or simply walking through to enjoy a few moments peace amongst the trees.  We also hope to add some benches in the future, along with bat boxes.

We also want to bring the village together for Apple Day which is held in October https://www.commonground.org.uk/apple-day.  The apples are there for all the village to enjoy and eat, surplus will be collected for groups such as the school, the weekly lunch club and any other groups who come forward.  If we’re lucky the WI might provide us with some unusual apple recipes! 
Orchards are also vital for wildlife as they provide pollen for the bees and insects which attract birds and bats.  Any windfall apples will be eaten by hedgehogs, worms and ground insects as well as helping to nourish the soil around each tree.  

Native wildlife in the UK is in serious decline due to loss of habitat so we hope this area will eventually provide a refuge for these vital insects and mammals but also for us when we walk through and linger to enjoy the blossom on a sunny day.
This day was a great team effort and a VERY BIG THANK YOU to all who helped and got mucky.  You made this a very special and memorable event.
We hope to have an official opening early next year and i
f you wish to be a member of the Yarnton Orchard Committee please contact Fiona on 07779 268836.

Thank you to all individuals and organisations that sponsored trees in the orchard including:

Graham and Yvonne Thompson, Eve and Fred Jones, Kim Overbeck, Shirley and Eddie Christiansen, David and Fiona Brimson, Janine and Carl Williams, Mary Clarke, The Isles family, Whitley family, Family Johnston, Kim Williams, Renee Charlett, The Wickham-Jones family,  Emily, Georgia and Owen Shewry, Ann Wyatt, Jackie Carpenter, Julie and Graham Hillsdon, Robin Hearn, Colin Clark and Hilary Palmer, George and Susan Doucas, Thorpe family,  My Bathrooms, Village News Committee, British Legion, Sanctuary Nursing Home, Parable Garden, Yarnton Women’s Institute. Yarnton Gardening Club, Yarnton Playing Fields.

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