Yesterday we spent the day working in one of our orchards. Its just behind Haslemere High Street so is really easy to go and visit.

Its a lovely peaceful place, and in a few weeks time will be full of blossom. Yesterdays task was to prune the apple and pear trees, as well as repairing some of the tree guards.

About five years ago this orchard only have five or six trees left, we put together an application for some funding and got together the money to restore it. Since then we have planted 30 or so apple, pear, plum, cherry, damson and gage trees. They are all old fashined traditional varieites. We planted them on traditional rootstocks which will allow them to gow up to 20-25 feet high, much taller than a modern orchard, but it will mean they will provide a really usefull space for the local wildlife.

The trees are just starting to come into their own now, and last year we got our first decent crop of apples. Of course as they get taller they also take longer to prune! what used to take an hour or two now takes all day. We are also training some of the branches downwards to make the fruit easier to pick, just in case you come by and wonder why the branches are tied down with string. Over time these branches will adapt to the shape we are training them into and the string will be removed.

We also spent some time repairing our tree gaurds and making sure all of the trees are property protected. This pear tree is much bigger than the sort of thing we would usually put a gaurd on, but the sheep were having a bit of a nibble at its bark so we thought we would give it a bit of protection.

Not to sure what the sheep thought about that.

We run apple pressing days in the autumn with our volunteers where we teach them how to make apple juice and cider with the fruits of our orchard, we are hoping for a bumper crop this year.

We restored an old apple press and scratter to use on these days. The press is one which has been in use in Sussex for years, there is a picture on the wall of a local pub of our press being used in the 1800’s. This is it being used last year.

The scratter was kindly donated by John Simpson, who does a lot of work for us on Black Down. Prior to coming to us it had a plant growing out of the top of it.

They were both restored using oak from our coppice woodland.

We are saving the best (hopefully!) of last years cider for a party on the day we raise the main frame of the new building. If you are here helping out be carefull, its strong stuff!