About Me

The online diary, thoughts, opinions and observations of Andy Read, Independent district councillor and former Mayor of Stroud in Gloucestershire, England. This is intended as one of the ways in which I try to inform local people what I am doing as their representative and as the only Independent councillor on Stroud District Council.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Stroud Apple Town: First new orchard created

I have just completed the third and final job of what has been a fascinating apple-inspired seven days. It began last Thursday when we held an Orchard Planting Day as part of the project to restore the former Victorian Pleasure Grounds opposite Tricorn House - now known as The Lake At The Lawn.

Old plans show that two orchards once existed at The Lawn. Just one old apple tree remains.  

However on Thursday, under the expert guidance of Helen Brent-Smith and Dave Kaspar from the award-winning Days Cottage at Brookthorpe, a group of six volunteers helped recreate part of a kitchen garden fruit orchard which once stood on the two-hectare site.

The event is part of the efforts to make Stroud the UK’s first Apple Town. Ben Spencer who first put forward the idea was able to join us for the day. Ben told me that the Town Council is planning to create a new orchard on The Long Ground in March.

We planted eleven apples, plum, pear and nut trees. All are traditional local specimens. 

The sub-zero tempratures meant the ground was too cold to expose the tender shoots of four trees we had hoped to create a second mini-orchard elsewhere on the site. We hope to plant them in the next few weeks.

At the end of the day Dave and Helen kindly invited me, along with my wife Debbie, to a fruit tree pruning workshop they were holding on their farm on Sunday. 

There really does seem to be a huge interest in rejuvenating Gloucestershire's orchard heritage. Both Dave and Helen are a true inspiration for anyone wishing to find out more. I'd heartily recommend any of their future events.

I've just completed the final stage of my Apple Week, putting what I have learnt into action in the small, nine tree mixed orchard that Debbie and I have created in our back garden. My newly trained eye offered lots of guilt as I looked at my hacking pruning efforts of past years. However I sought refuge in Dave's reassurances that 'apple trees are hardy things'. At least with my new skills, they now stand a better chance in future.
You can find out more information about the Lake At The Lawn project and recent pictures from my previous blog here.

The top picture is courtesy of local photographer Ruth Davey who just happened to be walking through The Lawn as we planted the final tree. Ruth is currently establishing a new business Look Again. In her own words: "Look Again uses photography and film to capture the uniqueness of you and the spirit of what you do, looking again at your world through a different frame.  I undertake commissions,  use photography as a tool for personal, business and community development, and exhibit and sell my art. I am passionate about people and the planet and hope that Look Again will contribute to making the world a better, fairer and healthier place to live, work and play. Look Again is built on strong ethical and green values." Please see more of Ruth's work here

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