Open, Opener, Openest

IMG_20180626_182540At the risk of repeating myself: The Piggeries Orchard is now officially open!

We sort-of opened it when planting the fruit trees on February 10th, 2018.

Richard “Scissors” H cut the ribbon and really officially opened it on June 2nd, 2018: Time to Celebrate.

I do now declare it truly and officially and complete opened, as open as can be, and I promise it shall not be any more open: the noticeboard is in!

The noticeboard was the last remaining item from our list of deliverables. The sign, albeit not the one made from locally grown oak envisioned, was installed this past week. The installation was complete just in time before the London in Bloom inspection. Such is the way of miracles and wonders!

From the bottom of our watering buckets, wheelbarrows, wellies and from the bottom of our hearts: Thank you so much for supporting this project! It has been the most delightful journey so far.

We appreciate loads of positive feedback whenever we work within the Piggeries Orchard. Many people stop by and share their appreciation. Thank you! It keeps is going. It really does, and it will keep us going well beyond this official completion of the projects. Plans are flying high and wild. Always.

 

 

 

 

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

DSCN2324Songs have been sung about the fact that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The song does not refer to spring when life returns in abundance, or summer when living is easy, or autumn when we harvest much of the year’s produce. It is of course about Christmas but for me, right now most certainly is one of the most wonderful times of the year.

Many trees are still in flower and the meadows are a sea of green, waving in the breeze and dotted with yellow, white, blue and purple flowers. Life emerges in abundance and with vigour wherever you look. There’s almost no holding back on the nettles or bramble, Giant Hogweed or indeed on apples, cherries, pears, plums or quinces, or anything else.

Why not explore the orchard trail this weekend?

Alone and in peaceful silence, with friends, with dogs, with kids. We have tried all these variants and everyone came out thumbs up and with a smile, every time.

You can view or download our brochure here for guidance.

You will also notice that the spring meadow cutting is under way across the orchard trail, an important and invigorating step in managing a meadow’s annual life cycle. Volunteers are always welcome!  We offer perfect opportunities to work up a sweat, to get stung, to get a suntan, to do something good, to be part of it. And we are very nice people (according to us). Why not join our ranks, once, or twice, or sometimes, or regularly?

Merry Christmas

merry-christmas-2016-02We wish you all a very Merry Christmas or festive end-of-year celebrations, and a very merry, happy and healthy New Year!

It’s been a joy to spend so much time together this year, and we cannot thank you all enough for all the work done to restrain brambles and nettles, encourage grass and meadow growth, collect rubbish and rubble, and so much more: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We’ll all be taking a break now until early January, when we’ll be busy preparing for Winter pruning (13-Jan) and Tree Planting (New date: 10-Feb). We hope to see you there and then!

 

Mangement Speak

dscn2923_kindlephoto-227171838Let’s talk about management strategies today!

I am of course referring to urban scrubland management in general and our orchard trail in the Grand Union Canal corridor in particular. No hollow phrases or Powerpoint slides in this management speak!

Research of biodiversity in urban environments confirms that biodiversity depends on habitat diversity.

By cutting back scrubland in selected areas in the Grand Union Canal corridor while leaving large areas of scrubland undisturbed, we add pockets of habitats through the introduction of open areas with small meadows and new trees, encouraging fauna and flora to complement the life hidden among the mostly thorny and stingy world of London’s wild west.

We have no biodiversity statistics for the area but personal observation shows that the area is rich in small mammals, amphibians, songbirds, bats and larger birds such as the heron, cormorant or the occasional green woodpecker and plenty of waterfowl. Oh, and the insects regularly introduce themselves in abundance, including the occasional nest of wasps or wild bees.

Perhaps you have photos documenting biodiversity in the area of the orchard trail?

We’d welcome contributions! Please submit photos to hanwell orchard (in one word) at gmail dot com including your full name, a short description of the variety or species shown, and where and when the picture was taken, and we’ll create a public photo gallery documenting biodiversity along the Grand Union Canal corridor between Osterley Lock and Bixley Triangle.

Can’t wait!

 

State of the Orchard Nation

DSC_0404This is to confirm that we held our third annual general meeting on Tuesday 14-November-2017 with thanks to our hosts for the evening, Hilary and Clive, and with thanks to  everyone who joined us for this important event.

A summary of the past year’s activities and an outline of our plans for the future was presented and discussed, much appreciated all around. Many thanks were extended to individuals who helped throughout the year with general orchard care, extensive scything and other tasks.

Mani Dhanda stood down as a committee member (Norwood Green ward representative) without replacement at this time. We thank you, Mani, and hope you’ll stay in touch!

Remaining committee members and the finances were approved, and Mirjam van Bentum is now officially and formally elected chairperson.

A good time, a handful of crisps and a glass of wine was enjoyed by all. A rewarding annual general meeting!

The official minutes will be made available soon.

Annual General Meeting

DSC_0412INVITATION & FORMAT NOTICE

Notice is hereby given of the third Annual General Meeting of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail, which will be held at 19:30 on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 72, St Margaret’s Road, Hanwell W7 2HF.

All members of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM. Please contact us to confirm your attendance. There is no charge for attendance at the AGM.

The complete notice and agenda can be found here (pdf).

Points Mean Prizes!

picnic-kidsWe must have ticked some boxes with the judges and are now pleased and proud to report that London in Bloom awarded the Osterley Lock Orchard with thriving in the It’s your Neighbourhood category. 

Thriving, we are proud to add, is just one tiny little step short of outstanding.

Our thanks to everyone who encouraged or helped with this fabulous project. Why not come and help celebrate at

Saturday October 21
Autumn Picnic and Birthday Party

in Jubilee Meadow by the sheep, from 13:00.

Bring a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbour. Bring a drink and something to eat for the sharing table if you like, but please be prepared to take leftovers back with you as we hate waste. You’re also welcome to come empty handed, as there’s always plenty and more to go round.

Most importantly, bring yourself. See you there!

Seasonal Changes

_MG_9310We had to suspend our weekly Tree Tending Tuesday meetings until spring 2018 due to the now early darkness. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to help on numerous occasions!

We recorded over 430 volunteer hours along the orchard trail for 2017 so far, with more to come! We think it shows: grass and meadow flowers are emerging and slowly taking over from nettles and brambles in the Osterley Lock, Piggeries, St Margaret’s and Blackberry Corner orchards. Elthorne Terrace, Elthorne Triangles, Trumpers Field, the Hanwell Meadows, Three Bridges Park and Glade Lane Canalside Park, Top Lock and Bixley Triangle also saw a lot of attention this year. In addition to weed bashing and rubbish removal, trees were pruned and fitted with better rabbit guards. We are now preparing to replace the worn-out and washed-out tree variety labels soon.

It’s never too late to join the fun! Our dedicated web page shows status and planned work on all sites, and active members coordinate using the volunteer email list.

More fun activity events are coming up in October and November!

Statistically Speaking

DSC_0611Statistically speaking, the average orchardist is a poor keeper of statistics. We plan on improving our habits, but I am sure someone can tell me how long this resolve typically lasts, statistically speaking.

In the absence of hard numbers, I estimated the time spent working in and around the orchard trail to be approximately 300 volunteer hours in 2017 so far. And we are only half way into the year!

My estimation is based on past dates in the diary, recollection and website articles about some events, group photos taken at the larger events. It does not include the social hours at a certain inn, our popular meadow picnics, training classes, ward forum meetings or committee meetings.

We’ll be turning three in October, and I reckon we might be looking back at something between 1500 and 2000 person hours spend clearing, cleaning, watering, pruning and rubbish collecting over that time. A big, big, thank you!

Here are some pictures of people at work in the orchards to bring back memories and inspire new volunteers.

 

The City is Ours

IMG-20170719-WA0003There’s more to life than weed bashing and tree watering, you know? To proof the point, we sent a delegation to party at the Museum of London, celebrating their City Now City Future season and their The City is Ours exhibition.

We are pleased to be part of the season, exhibition and the party. A digital display showcasing 25 initiatives to “fix the city” includes our project, and our very own Mirjam van Bentum will present the orchard trail on 31-August-2017, 13:00-14:00, at the Museum.

Visitors will be able to pick up copies of our self-guided orchard trail walk brochures at the museum. You’re of course welcome to find out who we are for yourself, right in the heart of Hanwell’s area of outstanding beauty. Come join us and help fix the city!