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Dick Turpin orchard to be transformed by volunteers

PUBLISHED: 17:27 19 September 2016

The new sign was erected on Wednesday

The new sign was erected on Wednesday

Archant

Residents are working hard with experts on a Heritage Lottery-funded project to preserve an orchard beside the Dick Turpin pub, in Aldborough Road North, Newbury Park.

Stephanie Irvine, orchard restoration project manager at The Orchard Project, said volunteers are welcome to join.

She said: “Preserving the orchard involves keeping the fruit trees alive by getting sunlight to their leaves, and preventing them from falling over.

“So far, thirteen local residents have cut down brambles and ivy, propped up leaning branches, and pruned.

“Over the next few months we will be identifying varieties, digging out brambles, mulching the trees with woodchip, lightly pruning the trees, and grafting new trees from “scion” wood.

“In the new year we will celebrate with a bug hunt and a traditional Wassail – an old custom to wake up the trees and make them fruitful, that involves singing and drinking cider!

“The work of the volunteers to save these veteran fruit trees comes just in the nick of time, as one tree tree fell over and died last winter.

“It is important to preserve these old orchards, not just for their history and fruit, but because they provide wonderful habitat for wildlife, such as fungus and invertebrates.

“We have already found one rare beetle there, not seen in London since 1928, thanks to all the volunteers, the Dick Turpin pub, Miller and Carter, and Redbridge Council for their cooperation.”

Ron Jeffries, chairman of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, said he remembered scrumping at the orchard as a child.

He said: “As a boy in the 1930s, I went scrumping there with my elder brother.

“My recollection is that the apples were under ripe and a bit sour when we picked them.

“But that might just be my mind not recollecting exactly what happened”

The Orchard Project will bring specialist expertise to help us, so far this has proved invaluable not only in the clearance work but in helping volunteers to understand much of the life of the orchard trees and wildlife.

“It’s a real community project, with the girl guides and pupils from Oak Park and William Torbitt primary school joining us.”

Chris Gannaway, a retired mechanical engineer who is leading the project locally, said the work was important to preserve wildlife.

“These old fruit trees are worth restoring because, besides being part of the heritage of the local area, they are an important habitat for wildlife especially the smaller forms of life.”

If you would like to get involved, please email stephanie@theorchardproject.org.uk.


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