The derelict Fish House, at the riverside end of the orchard, is very much on our to-do list – decisions need to be made about its future, whether to leave it derelict or try and get funding to restore it it.
We had asked SPT, who specialise in restoration of historic buildings, for their views. They had visited the building before, but this was our first joint visit, with Anne Mackintosh and Steve Hurrell of SPT meeting Ann and Stuart Smith, Jim Chapman and Jonathan Briggs of GOT.
Lengthy discussions followed, on site and over lunch afterwards, but as yet we have no firm way forward. The general consensus was that getting funding would be very difficult, so there is no immediate prospect of restoration. Other options will have to be considered. More on this in due course!
Our display boards are now installed in the barn at Longney – following sterling work by Stuart, Pete, Ann and Keith who had to battle quite a lot of mud to get onto the site. Our thanks to all of them.
These are the boards used at the Folk Museum two years ago – always intended for Longney afterwards, and now they’re there!
One particularly exciting event, in the centre of Gloucester itself, is at the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly the Folk Museum) where Gloucester Civic Trust will be hosting the Annual Apple day on Saturday 19th of October 2019 from 10am to 4pm. It will be a Celebration of Gloucestershire Apples and Cider Making.
Come and see Rosie the Cider horse, who is coming for the first time this year to help turn the apple mill and make Apple Day in Gloucester a success. She is taking over from Fergus who has now retired after five years of service.
“This is one of the last fully operational horse powered apple mills in the West Country” said Alex Bailey, Chairman of the Operations Team at The Folk, “and we are very fortunate that we can still demonstrate how it works”
There will also be a chance to try some rare breed apples provided by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust and they will be there to sell apple juice and ciders and provide advice on looking after your own apple trees.
There will be lots of Children’s activities available and Morris Dancers from Lassington Oak performing and giving Morris Dancing workshops.
We will have live music from a folk band and Bygonz performing at the event too.
For extra refreshment there will be Severn Cider running a bar with some of their favourite craft ciders available to buy.
This is a preview event for the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly Folk Museum) which is opening in Spring 2020 and will be an exhibition and events space housed in a large Tudor building in Lower Westgate, Gloucester. It will tell the story of Gloucester Folk from Tudor Times to the Modern Day.
The Folk will be operating a café during the event offering Teas, Coffees, Ciders and soft drinks.
Congratulations to Jim Chapman, who, at the National Perry Pear Centre’s Open Afternoon in Hartpury last weekend, displayed 108 varieties of Perry Pear, a World Record. Comfortably beating his own previous record of 97 varieties last year. Most were from the National Perry Pear Centre’s own Hartpury orchards, augmented by a few from Malvern.
You missed it? Don’t worry, you can see the display again next weekend in the Orchard Pavilion at the Malvern Autumn Show. Jim will be on hand to identify any perry pears you may like to bring. A donation is asked for to help the Trust’s work at the Centre.
And GOT’s own stand will be nearby with a Gloucestershire apple display, tasting opportunities for selected (ripe) apple varieties and juice for sale plus tree advice.
Our AGM last weekend, at The Anchor Inn in Epney, was well-attended despite indifferent and rather windy weather – which we feared might put people off coming, especially for the orchard walkabout later.
After the official business was over we enjoyed two presentations – one on the Fish House (in our Longney Orchards) and one on Mason Bees. Juliet Bailey led on the Fish House, summarising her review of the building last year, the changes in overgrowth since we took the site on and the options for the future. In an ideal world we would be able to restore the building and find a use for it – but without funding or, indeed, an obvious use, we may have to consider other options. Juliet outlined the main scenarios – from full restoration to letting it fall down completely. We had a lively discussion over the ways forward, particularly bearing in mind that we are an Orchard Trust and so must prioritise orchard conservation, and so finding a partner organisation more attuned to historic building work might be a way forward. Some early ideas of partnerships are already being explored.
This was followed by a presentation by Chris and John Whittles from Mason Bees UK (www.masonbees.co.uk) who promote the use of Red Mason Bees (Osmia bicornus) as pollinators for gardens and orchards. They talked about their research on Mason Bee life cycles and pollination abilities, comparing this favourably with the more conventional concept of honey bees or bumble bees – Mason Bees being much more efficient.
Their presentation was wide-ranging – covering also experiences elsewhere (e.g. the US in Californian Almond Orchards) with other mason bee species, and the intriguing issue of observable better fruit following mason bee pollination. This phenomenon is perhaps due to differing microbial interaction between bee and flower – with mason bee interactions different to honey or bumble bees. The issue of colony health and good husbandry was covered too – Mason Bee UK’s system involve participants (Bee Guardians) sending the bee cocoons back to them each year to check for parasites etc, with the healthy cocoons and new nesting tubes sent back to hatch on site in spring. This avoids the build-up of pathogens and parasites a permanent ‘bee hotel’ would suffer from. For information on becoming one of their Bee Guardians visit their website here: https://www.masonbees.co.uk/bee-guardians
After lunch most of the attendees travelled the short distance north to our Longney Orchards, to view the changes over the last 12 months – barn restoration, fencing completion, grazing begun, remedial pruning completed etc. And discussion continued about the Fish House – now almost invisible under its covering of ivy – and about Mason Bees – whose release boxes and new nesting sites could be seen on site.
Some more pictures from the day below (pictures by Ann Smith and Juliet Bailey):
Last Saturday, 16th March, we held a networking event for community orchard groups at Toddington Village Hall. Far too much was discussed to be reported here – maybe later when we’ve digested it all – but here are some pictures of the many and varied impromptu presentations given to everyone as we toured round the various stalls and displays.
Many thanks to all who attended, and to those who helped. Especially to Alison Parfitt who conceived and masterminded the event.
Historian Dr. Nicholas Herbert, former editor of the Victoria County Histories, gave a fascinating talk about 17th/18th century squatters and their role in shaping the landscape of West Gloucestershire on Tuesday 16th October 2018 at the excellent venue of Gorsley Baptist Church.
Thanks to all who came and assisted, including the local history societies. Jim Chapman (GOT and curator of the National Perry Pear Centre) gave an introductory talk, discussing the contribution squatters and smallholders have made to overall fruit production in 18th/19th centuries.
Thanks to the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project for funding this. Karen Humphries, was also thanked for leading the project over the last three years.