Last winter, an invitation to the Bullfield Orchard to participate in fruit-tree pruning and an informal blessing of the potential harvest was too tempting to resist.
The site appeared ideal, a large green space surrounded by houses.
Unperturbed by wind and rain, we completed the task and passed around a jug of cider whilst traditional verse was read aloud – a very satisfying experience.
Several months and one growing season later, I returned for a celebration of harvest with a difference.
A marquee with information boards and images of the year’s events formed a focal point. There were craft activities, willow weaving and refreshments. Friends, guests and visitors had been encouraged to bring their surplus apples for pressing, the proviso being, provide your own container for the juice.
Friend Peter, a member of the organising group, later spoke enthusiastically of the event, delighted with the public response in bringing along apples for processing, and the attendance, which included lots of children.
The Friends of the Bullfield Community Orchard (firstname.lastname@example.org) established it in March 2011 with an initial planting of 40 fruit trees.
They have a 99-year lease on the land, which is owned by Northumberland County Council. Plans are in place and funding is being sought for additional trees and a new play area.
How wonderful that projects such as this give everyone the opportunity to develop skills in growing a portion of their own food. Better still, they provide a haven for wildlife and calming green space for people to unwind.
Those who run such organisations deserve all the encouragement and funding they can get.