An apple a day keeps the doctor away – a visit to Limpsfield’s Community Orchard

This weekend, Saturday May 5th, the Limpsfield Community Orchard is hosting its annual blossom viewing – from 10.30 to 12.00 – with coffee/tea and apple cake as usual!  Everyone is invited. It’s a lovely thing to do with all the family.

On the recent warm weekend, I went to meet the dedicated team running the orchard. This fruit-loving bunch set up the project to help people of all ages to appreciate and grow their own fruit – in their own gardens and local spaces…  

Helen Ellson, Chair of the Community Orchard Project, first saw the plot of land, located between Grub Street and the Allotments, in 2009. The land, owned by the National Trust, was made available to the project and the group now manages it under licence.

Helen Nelson

The Community Orchard Project was officially created in the Autumn of 2010, by an initial group of volunteers who planted 24 apple trees and six pear trees that November.

The group is a registered Community Interest Company, managed by a committee of five – Helen Ellson, Pauline Whyte, Lorna Ball, Peter Jarvis and Jennie Ephgrave. They also have RHS fruit expert, Jan Lambourn as their orchard mentor.

(Interview with Helen Ellson)

What’s the aim of the project?

Our aim is to grow fruit and show people how it’s done, encourage fruit growing (and eating!) and provide an area for relaxation and beauty. We wanted to add something to the community and hold events, such as tastings and the Wassail, which involves the community and Limpsfield CofE Infants School – both parents and children.

How many people are involved and are you looking for more involvement from the community?

We have a strong core of about 15+ who turn up to most working parties and events, but we have 60+ of actual ‘Friends’ (who have made donations). We would love some more volunteers, especially for the Wassail, and sometimes for the working parties, but we can’t cope with large numbers as the space is limited, so it’s best to email us in advance if you’re keen to help out.

Volunteer Sue loves the exercise she gets in her “garden gym”!

Is it something that people of all ages can do?

A lot of the work is really more suited to adults, but every year, we have a massive growth of balsam under the Copper Beech Tree. The St Peter’s (Limpsfield CofE Infants School) children love pulling all that out and they helped us in 2011 to build the Bug House, which is a great home for all sorts of different creepy crawlies for the kids to look at on their nature walks.

The Beavers and Rainbows (cub scouts and girl guides) both come now independently to use the area for games and bonfires etc. We have done special apple tasting events for them too and we also run an Annual Poetry Competition for the children of Limpsfield CofE School.

What’s the orchard trail and can anyone use it?

The Orchard Trail was created in 2014 along with Tandridge District Council. It’s open to everyone and there are leaflets in St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield Memorial Stores and on the noticeboard in the Orchard.

The trail is a lovely walk that goes from St Peter’s Church, through the village, then up through the common and woods across the Golf course by Grub St and down little path through the woods and into the Orchard.

What do you do with all the apples?

As a community project we’re not for profit and so don’t sell our apples but have tastings when people can take them away. Sometimes we label a tree and just say pick your own; we also give to the Harvest Festival; large boxes go to the local school and we give labelled apples to the Limpsfield Memorial Stores sometimes for donations.

How can people get involved with the Community Orchard Project?

The best was it to become a Friend of the Orchard, come to the working parties, help run the events, such as the Blossom viewing in early May, Harvest in the Autumn and tastings. We also have a Pruning Masterclass every year.

Visit the orchard this weekend!

The orchard has been weeded and mulched and is looking lovely, so pop along to the for the blossom viewing this weekend and find out more about the project.  This is a lovely thing to do with all the family.

The Limpsfield Community Orchard Project relies on donations for funding. To become an orchard friend and support the Community Orchard Project, a donation of £10 is suggested (preferably via Direct Debit). Friends receive regular email updates and invitations to events and activities.

Find out more about the Community Orchard project at their website/blog: http://orchardlimpsfield.blogspot.co.uk/

For more info, contact Helen Ellson: helenellson205@btinternet.com or call (01883) 713160.

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