Steyning Community Orchard News: February 2021

If you want to check the dates and times of Steyning Community Orchard activities or find out about what we do and the fruit we grow, then you can look on the website:

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, we have had to cancel our Wassail which was due to be held in January, but you can be sure that we will be starting again as soon as it is safe for large crowds to get together.

Every month the Community Orchard gets an update on the number of views the website has had. We cannot tell who is looking, but we can see their location. Not surprisingly, most of them were quite local, but we have had people from throughout the UK and around the world viewing the site. Every month people from several different parts of the United States view it, and we have had people from other countries including Korea, Israel, Ukraine, France and Italy. This acts as a reminder that interest in community orchards is now worldwide and growing.

There are lots of reasons for planting a Community Orchard. Making organic fruit available to local people, teaching children about the source of food and encouraging biodiversity. They are important for biodiversity, especially as a pollen source for bees, but lots of other species benefit as well. They compensate for the huge decline in commercial orchards in the UK, down 64% in 27 years.

It was the community conservation and environmental education group, Common Ground, who started things off with the first Apple Day in 1990. 60 organizations took part and by 1999 this had grown to over 600. They were also concerned about the loss of heritage apple varieties as commercial growers concentrated on just a small number types.

There are now Community Orchards all over the country and the numbers keep increasing all the time. There is now lots of information available for people who want to start one. Several people from local communities have contacted us to ask our advice on how to get started (the latest was from Thakeham) and Roger Brown has responded with lots of practical advice and information.

In the United States things took off more slowly, now several organizations in the USA and Canada have got together to form the Community Orchard Network to share resources and information and it is taking off over there. Orchards are also being started in other countries including Italy and Croatia.

So when you are walking past our local orchards in the Memorial Playing Field, Steyning Downland Scheme or Bramber Brooks you might remember that they are more than just a small local effort, but part of a growing international movement.

Bob Platt. Steyning Community Orchard
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