Steyning Community Orchard News: June 2021

You’ll be pleased to hear that the Steering Group of the Steyning Community Orchard has not been in hibernation during the Pandemic and is ready to move back into top gear. So we really look forward to your visiting the orchards and delighting in the yearly cycle.

While we have been locked up, Nature has been busy. The trees continue to grow and thrive, bearing fruit, pollen and nectar for the insect world, though the late frost and chill winds of April and early May may have affected the setting of their fruit, particularly plums and cherries.

We’ve had to change our event plans this year. In place of Apple Day, we will be holding two sessions of Apple Juicing where anyone with apples can bring them along for crushing and processing. (If the juice is frozen within 48 hours, it will be good for months). In our household this never works as it is so delicious we drink it there and then!

The probable dates for juicing sessions will be Sunday 5th September (hopefully as part of the Steyning Festival’s Community Day on Fletcher’s Croft) and then Saturday 2nd October in the Community Orchard. More about these in due course.

On 6th November our own apple juice will be on sale in the Farmers Market together with Sue Merrikin’s beautiful apple painting greetings cards. We look forward to welcoming you there.

And the Wassail! In January 2022 the Mythago Morris Side will, as always, lead the proceedings. We’ll gather at the Steyning Cricket Club, process with them to the Orchard for the Wassail. then return to the club house for soup, rolls, and an evening of music, singing and drinking, with an emphasis on cider!

Covid restrictions prevented the donors of trees for the orchards joining in with the initial planting in February, so in May we shared a celebration/dedication ceremony in both orchards.

The planting of the four final trees completed the Steyning Downland Orchard (SDO) - a further cause for celebration. With the help of donors, we’ve planted 22 specimen trees - apple, pear, plum, damson, quince and medlar, and 28 cordon apple trees along two sides of the post and rail fence.

Along the right hand fence, looking into the orchard, is the Native English hedge planted some years ago by the cub scouts under the watchful eye of Dave Buckett, and funded by the Steyning WI. Now it is mature there are plans for the SDS Conservationists to weave it into a layered hedge. This will take place next February under the expert guidance of Derek Crush of Daylands Farm.

This will complete the plans to transform our corner of the SDS, previously just grazing land, into an area rich in flora and fauna, and part of the greater network of wildlife corridors threading through our countryside.

You can see that there is lots of action in the pipe line as we emerge from lockdown ‘We so look forward to seeing you all again. If you would like to become more involved in our activities do visit our recently upgraded Web Site which will guide you along the path.’

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