Celebrate Apple Day at the Community Orchard on Sunday 23rd October.
Home to 17 varieties of indigenous Gloucestershire Apple trees, two Perry Pears, two damsons and a selection of edible hedgerow trees, Bisley’s Community Orchard is a celebration of community in nature, and our local produce. The orchard helps to enhance the biodiversity of the site creating new habitat for bees and other wildlife, as well as providing a community fruit resource for the village.
In addition to providing crops and habitats, the Orchards host and are backdrop to Community activities and events, including outdoor yoga “YoGar” for the Summer Solstice 2015.
The Orchard also stands as a memorial to the late Lyn Hemming who was passionately involved in the project from its beginning. To commemorate Lyn’s work and commitment as Bisley Tree Warden the Cotswold Tree Warden Group presented the Community Orchard with a rare indigenous variety of Perry Pear, the ‘Beetroot pear’ [Pyrus sp. var.] and planted in honour of Lyn.
The Community Orchard is maintained by a group of active volunteers, who gather several times a year to weed, stake and generally tend the, still young, trees.
A Brief History
As part of a project to revitalise the Chestergate (Bisley) Allotments site, the project started with an Orchard Workshop led by Dave Kaspar of Day’s Cottage (Day’s Cottage apple juice), during Zero Waste in January 2009. Inspired, Jilly Cobbe then took the lead in developing a plan for the Community Orchard, with the assistance of the Trustees of the Charity the Ancient Parish of Bisley, who own the Chestergate Allotment site.
Funding was secured with Bisley village residents voting to give £400 won as a result of the Calor Gas ‘Gloucestershire Environmental Village of the Year’ Award 2008, with a further £600 grant raised from the O2 Fund.
Following an odious winter, the first small trees were planted on 7th February 2010; blessed with a song, especially written for the Orchard by Bairbre McAteer, and celebrated with cake and apple juice.
February 26th 2010, the Community Orchard Group held a ‘Planting and Wassail’ afternoon following the Award of edible hedgerow trees by the Woodland Trust.
In January 2016 George and Hadley Hemming, Lyn’s sons, led the community orchard group and other friends in planting a Rowan and a Mulberry in memory of Lyn. An allotment holder has offered to donate another Rowan to provide a ‘gateway’ to the Community Orchard through the Edible Hedgerow. This will be planted in autumn 2016.