Orchard Trail Walk

frontHave you seen our brand new

Self-guided Orchard Trail Walk  

yet?

We are often asked about the orchard trail. Brilliant, folks would tell us, we love the idea, but where is it? Can I walk along it?

You always could, but you can now follow the trail with our new the orchard trail brochure! The brochure breaks the walk down into four easy segments, and guides you through a series of different habitats and hidden nature treasures in Hanwell, Norwood Green and Southall.

You can download the brochure for free from here. We will distribute paper copies in the local libraries and similar locations soon, watch out for those, too!

We hope to see you along the trail soon.

You are of course very welcome to help with the maintenance tasks along the trail, too. We meet every Tuesday evening and every first Saturday in a month, at times and in locations published in the side bar on this website. Anyone is welcome to come along. No fees, no pressure, no experience necessary. Give as much time or as little time as you can, and you’ll be rewarded with the warm feeling of having done something good.

We’ll be a-working today, Saturday 3-June-2017, from 11:00 in Blackberry Corner (later also at Osterley Lock). Join us and earn your free paper copy of this fabulous brochure!

 

Community Payback

IMG_20170506_112458197_HDRThank you, Community Payback! 

Arranged with the London Community Rehabilitation Company, 8 rehabilitating offenders came to lend us a hand in moving woodchip from St Margaret’s Open Space to the Piggeries Orchard. This was then used for mulching approximately 100 metres of hedging along the back wall and the towpath. Mulching helps retains moisture, slows weed growth and improves the soil by composting in place. On a second occasion, a group of eight finished the mulching at the Piggeries and applied woodchip to the hedge surrounding the St Margaret’s Open Space Orchard.

We certainly promote compliance with the law at all times, but we really do appreciate the help we received last week! The troupe enthusiastically moved approximately 70 wheelbarrow loads of woodchip and certainly earned our heartfelt thanks for a job well done.

We hope for more help from Community Payback with tasks like mulching, help with weed control or rubble removal. A true paying back to the community and taken some burden off our volunteers and park rangers for the benefit of everybody.

(Photo shows woodchip mulching applied elsewhere along the orchard trail to protect the privacy of our community payback helpers.)

 

Suntan Studio, Gym and Social Club

IMG_20170411_191954Did you know there’s still plenty of opportunity for everyone to get that suntan, to join our very own free-of-charge outdoor gym and social club in Hanwell’s Grand Union Canal corridor? Join us for your chance to explore Hanwell’s most beautiful hidden gems on your very own hands and knees!

A small yet determined taskforce met for last Saturday’s Piggeries informal opening, mulching and weeding. We entertained ourselves with the removal of many bramble roots and pulling of horsetail shoots, applied woodchip mulching and top-soil to hedges and rockeries. The hedges were weeded and watered, even more rubbish found and removed, stones and rubble collected. We spread meadow seed to boost growth. Glorious sunshine was enjoyed by all, with a celebratory slice of cake or two.

Every Tuesday evening and every first Saturday in a month present perfect opportunities to come out and join in the fun. We always have a variety of tasks for all abilities and ages, whether you can spare an hour or an entire day, whether you have a green thumb or two left hands. No experience necessary!

Please check the sidebar for details (bottom of the page for mobile phone users).

Happy Easter!

 

Who We Are, What We Do

The best way to find out who we are and what we do is to head down to The Piggeries Orchard right now. Today, Saturday 8-May-2017,  we’ll be mulching, clearing and sowing, and celebrate the event with a speech, a cheer and a slice of cake!

Our resident videographer Steve Haskett has produced a new short clip about our group and our work. Take a look if you need some extra motivation, if you can’t join us today or if you are reading this at a later date.

Thank you, Steve!

The Dutch Solution

j-m-01The Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail would not exist, no fruit trees would have been planted and friendships would not have been formed without the inspired idea and promotion by Julie Long. Julie invited the inaugural meetings and helped hands-on and at the debating table, leading the group as chairperson for over two years.

While Julie will continue to be a member and attend the committee in an advisory role, she decided to step down from her role as chairperson due to other commitments.

Julie, we can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done over this time!

Let’s all meet at the Piggeries Celebrations next Saturday, 8-April 10:30 – 15:30!

We’ll be combining work with pleasure, mulching and celebrating. Yes, there will be cake!

It also is the perfect opportunity to meet Mirjam van Bentum, who kindly accepted the committee’s nomination for acting chairperson, initially until the annual general meeting in autumn. Mirjam is a committee member already (Elthorne Ward representative) and is actively preparing our part in the Museum of London’s City Now City Future exhibition.

The photo shows both Mirjam (left) and Julie (right) in their natural habitat.

The Piggeries Report

_mg_9291Today is a good day for a brief update on the Piggeries Orchard. As many of you know, we hit unexpected problems caused by an exceedingly high water table and unexpected water flow through the site, but we are happy to report continued progress and plans for the next steps:

The site has been cleared of brambles, many rocks and heaps of rubbish. The pond has been dug, fencing along the towpath and the path through the site is installed. This is already very popular with walkers and dogs!

Some of the rubble has been used to construct a newt habitat by the pond, and we are waiting to see small amphibians move in. Bird boxes for blue tits and robins have been installed in the trees surrounding the site. A composting area has been constructed (and will disappear from view as the hedges surrounding it grow).

100 metres of edible and prickly hedging plants have been planted along the fence and the back wall, and many already show signs of growth. We recently added a dozen of summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries along the fence by the canal, and a number of gooseberry and black currant bushes for everyone to come along and sample some of that soft fruit deliciousness.

We will seed the meadow and pond borders later in March or April to give a boost to grass and meadow flowers. Many dozens of bulbs of native bluebells and daffodils have been planted around Christmas, and some are beginning to emerge already.

We are short of a fruit tree orchard at this time, however. Thames Water has recently fixed water mains leaks in Studley Grange Road and St Dunstan’s Road, with the almost immediate effect that the water flow through the Piggeries is now back to meet expectations. There is planned water flow due to a slow-releasing surface water storage tank, which we expect to reduce further during the dry months and with continued improvements to surface water drainage from the nearby streets. This will turn the pond into what we originally planned: a seasonal water feature.

For now, we monitor the ground water levels. We missed the 2017 fruit tree planting season on purpose and hope to be able to plant fruit trees in 2018. We are already making designs for plan B to ensure that the Piggeries Orchard will live up to expectations.

Throughout this year, we’ll keep the site pristine, watch the water levels, monitor fauna and flora on site. We will have several activity days to dig out brambles, fight giant hogweed and nettles, and similar activities.

This is your chance to come join the fun. Watch this space for announcements!

(See what I mean? Nothing happens at the Piggeries but here I am, enumerating the improvements already done in an article longer than my arm.)

 

Canalside Housing Project 

dscn2870_kindlephoto-114942900Have you heard of the new canalside housing project in Hanwell yet?

18 new homes are now available at discounted monthly rates of naught and nothing to couples and young families of tits, robins, finches and other small birds. The new homes are located in several trees surrounding the Osterley Lock, Elthorne Waterside Terrace, Elthorne Waterside (Trumpers Way Entrance), St Margarete’s Open Space and The Piggeries orchards.

Another 13 similar flat-pack homes will be installed across the Hanwell Meadows and beyond the Three Bridges monument soon.

Tree #73 has been moved away to a sunnier location, the hedges at St Margarete’s have been mulched, a bucket or two of bramble roots were dug out.  Not bad for a Saturday morning!

Phenomenal Plant Planting

img_20170204_130546233_hdrOur heartfelt thanks, as ever, to everyone who volunteered and helped enthusiastically in the planting of fruit trees at Osterley Lock and Elthorne Waterside last week!

The group was so enthusiastic, in fact, that more trees than originally planned ended up in the soil at Osterley Lock, and fewer than planned were planted in the Elthorne Waterside terrace behind the “Bambi” statue.

We are happy to report 18 new fruit trees in total, 17 of which were planted at Osterley Lock, including Medlar, Pear, Apple, Plum, Quince and Black Mulberry. We can’t wait to see them come into bloom and fruit!

We are now evaluating and deciding whether to acquire more trees or postpone the filling-in on that terrace.

Fruity Fruity

_mg_9276Never mind the damp conditions surrounding The Piggeries orchard, we are delighted to report a successful planting day this last Saturday.

Over twenty volunteers worked hard, sometimes almost back breaking, to collect rubble all over the site. These stones, bricks and rather large and heavy blocks of concrete now enjoy a second life and form a habitat for newts and other reptiles and amphibians.

The old advertising sign for the adjacent housing development was taken down, dismantled and re-purposed for our first on-site composting and leaf-mulching areas.

Many more brambles were removed all over the site, and last not least, between 400 and 500 fruiting hedge plants were planted along the fence by the towpath and along the back wall. Varieties include Hazel (corylus avellana), Quickthorn (crataegus monogyna), Blackthorn, also known as Sloe (prunus spinosa), Dog Rose (rosa canina), Ramanas Rose (rosa rugosa), Black Elder (sambucus nigra), Cherry Plum (prunus cerasifera myrobalan) and Crabapple (malus evereste).

All along the orchard trail, rabbit guards were reinforced and enlarged to give our young trees that extra bit of protection from hungry rodents.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all helpers on the day, everyone who stopped by or otherwise expressed their support, and of course to the Tree Council, who donated the hedge plants. A surprisingly mild, sunny and impressively productive Saturday!

We plan to add more soft fruit such as gooseberries, redcurrants or raspberries, and we can’t wait to see it all grow.

Watch this site and join us for the next steps at The Piggeries in February or March (planting of soft fruit, sowing of meadow flowers and grass).

Water Drainage Problem

20170115_155644Many people have noticed the recent increased water flow through The Piggeries Orchard into the canal which has caused the towpath to become eroded, wet and muddy.

We thank the many towpath users and neighbours who brought the issue to our attention.

While the increase in water flow appears to coincide with work at the orchard we believe the cause lies in a long-term issue with surface water drainage further uphill. Recently a water mains leak in Studley Grange Road appears to have added to the problem.

We are working with Ealing Council to identify the source of the water and arrange for necessary repairs or improvements to the drainage system responsible . We hope that the Canal and Rivers Trust can then restore the towpath surface to improve it for pedestrians and cyclists.