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. We were dismayed by trees laden
with fruit destined for the compost bin, so we decided to do something about
it. 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 project offers advice from our resident Apple Doctor and training in pruning and tree care. Our objective is 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.
The Fruit Swap organises apple picking and community pressing events along with a swapping and sharing scheme to provide the many hands for harvesting and give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the singular delights of truly fresh fruit.
In November 2003 the project launched treewise, an environmental approach to learning, which allows children to explore and engage with nature through seasonal tasks, play and celebration.
In September 2004, the Apple Project secured funding from the Local Heritage Initiative and Leader+ to pursue orchard research using archive maps and to organise events and activities to raise awareness of orchard heritage in West Dorset. This year of celebration and discovery became the Heritage Orchard Year.