The Symondsbury Apple Project: Orchard care and conservation
Sweet apple fall
Before the Spring Sun
Before the bud bloom blossom come
Brightened by rain
Sugared with frost
Fall apple fall
Or all is lost
Traditionally, all apples must fall before the Spring or the harvest will fail.
In 1999 the project was set up by two local families in order to restore an old cider orchard in Symondsbury, Dorset. The first year we harvested as much fruit as possible from trees in the village and sold them through a veg box scheme and health food shops, we attended our first cider pressing and organised our very own Apple Day. The went on to run practical pruning courses, hold celebrations and volunteer days and established a free orchard and fruit tree advice line The main aim of the group was to encourage people to look after their trees and to build within the local community the necessary skills and knowledge to assist in the conservation of orchards. Another important aim was to find ways to get orchard fruit used.
November 2003 the project launched Treewise, an outdoor family learning project which started the first outdoor playgroup in the country and brought many more people into the orchard with its broad program of education.
In September 2004, the Apple Project secured funding from the Local Heritage Initiative and Leader+ to pursue orchard research using archive maps raise awareness of orchard heritage in West Dorset.
In April 2006 The Apple Project became a non-profit social enterprise called The Treewise Co-operative which initiated several innovative projects in its 6 years of operation including the establishment of Bridport Community Orchard in 2008.
Currently David and Kim Squirrell continue the work of the project in offering advice and consultation.
Research into Dorsetís orchards, along with the re-discovery and preservation of Dorset cider varieties has been meticulously undertaken by The Dorset Apple Tree Analysis Project initiated and delivered by pomologist Liz Copas and professional cider maker Nick Poole (West Milton Cider & Dorset Sweet and Sour ). This research project has led directly to the propagation and planting of the Linden Lea Orchard by Rupert Best in Melplash.