Autumn Orchard Picnic

rainy-picnicWhy not come along and join our casual

Autumn Orchard Picnic

Tomorrow, Sunday October 14th, in Jubilee Meadow (by the sheep) a private residence due to foul weather from 13:00

See our schedule page for location details.

The weather is going to be just fine this time! (Oh no it won’t!)

It’s the perfect opportunity to see the beautiful Hanwell Meadows, catch up with the latest orchard news and plans and join or meet our group of orchard and picnic enthusiasts.

Bring a friend, a child, a dog, a spouse and a smile. Bring food and drink to the sharing table if you like to, but please be prepared to take back leftovers and bring no more than your own party would consume. We’d love to keep  food and plastic waste to a minimum.

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Scything Course

IMG_20180915_161821For those who took part, as a memory. For those who didn’t, as a reminder on what they missed: here are some photos and a timelapse video from last week’s scything course.

10 participants enjoyed relaxed expert tuition under scything instructor Clive Leeke. Once background knowledge was established and everyone was fitted with tools, we moved on to  cut approximately half an acre of mixed-vegetation meadow in St Margaret’s Open Space.

Even Ealing Council officials were impressed!

Our thanks to the Fox for use of their premises for the opening and closing parts, and our thanks to Ealing Council and contractors for their support in this effort.

 

A-maz-ing

IMG_20180904_190059Just in case you didn’t know: Nature is amazing!

Its been one month to the day when a small grass fire burnt some of Blackberry Corner in the Hanwell Meadows.

First came the fire. Next came the local volunteers with water buckets, followed by the fire brigade, followed by more bucket-carrying volunteers.

Next came flocks of pigeons, which were enjoying seeds or insects among the burnt grass.

Look at it now. It’s been only four weeks and you can barely see where it was! The meadow is already lush with regrown grass again, only those parts with poor soil still expose some of the burnt surface. One of the burnt trees shows signs of life. Truly amazing.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Yellow Rattle Harvest

dscn4063Volunteers have been harvesting Yellow Rattle seed (rhinanthus minorat St Margaret’s Open space this week in our latest effort to manage the meadows and orchards organically.

Yellow Rattle is a herbaceous annual plant with yellow flowers. It is also a parasite to grass or other neighbouring plants, withdrawing nutrients from their root system. In doing so, Yellow Rattle restricts grass growth and increases biodiversity.

The effects are clearly visible where Yellow Rattle is in abundance; grass is less vigorous and other plants such as white clover get a chance, too.

We plan to sow the seed in autumn at St Margaret’s Orchard and The Piggeries Orchard, improving biodiversity and saving ourselves some hay making work.

 

Time To Celebrate

piggeries-openingIt’s time to celebrate the Piggeries Orchard official opening!

Please come join our opening party and casual bring-your-own spring picnic

Saturday June 2nd from 12:00

The Piggeries Orchard (map)

Dignitaries have been invited, fine weather has been requested, the speech is prepared. All that is missing is you!

Bring a friend, bring a smile, bring yourself. Bring some food or drink to the sharing table if you like, but please bring no more than your party would consume and be prepared to take packaging and leftovers back so that we can keep waste to a minimum.

The Piggeries Orchard is wheelchair accessible from Studley Grange Road.

Please be aware of the proximity to the Grand Union Canal when you bring young children, dogs or ducks.

 

 

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?

Not Funny

not-a-deerThis is not funny. Not funny at all.

In my weekly desperate search for this week’s article, I turned to orchard jokes. A desperate move, I know. I sampled a few of the suggested sites and read a number of jokes. Not a muscle twitched, no grin emerged, but quite a few eyes started rolling. I gave myself a meal and a drink, then read some more. Still nothing.

No matter where my personal humour levels rank between 0 and 100 from your standpoint of view, surely there has to be one truly funny orchard joke that needs to be remembered for all times?

I look forward to reading your offerings. The comments on this post are open for 14 days after publication.

Something For Your Diary

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We’ve got a number of activities coming up and hope to see you at all of them. OK, perhaps some. Or at least one…? No matter how much or how little you can or want to help, no matter how much or how little experience you bring, we’ll take it!

Saturday 12-May-2018 from 10:00

Mulching at The Piggeries orchard. Please note the early start due to the Hanwell Hootie starting in the afternoon so that you can do both!

Saturday 2-June-2018 from 12:00

Casual bring-your-own spring picnic in The Piggeries orchard. No kite flying this time but the grand opening ceremony and official completion of the project shall not be missed.

Saturday 9-June-2018 from 11:00

Mulching, starting with Blackberry Corner in the Hanwell Meadows, then onward the orchard trail until we run out of energy, fine weather or wood chippings.

Saturday 14-July-2018 from 11:00

Wood chipping at The Piggeries orchard with the rangers and their big wood chipper for self-sustained local mulching.

… And of course there is

Tree Tending Tuesday, Every Tuesday from 19:00

Your weekly chance to get involved with light activity and a lively discussion over refreshments. Location varies to meet demand; please see our schedule, join our volunteer email system or follow our Twitter for up-to-date announcements.

We recorded 167 volunteer person hours this year already. Will we reach a thousand? With your help we might.

No Appointment Necessary

DSCN3941We anticipated vandalism in certain areas and got very little, but suffer a series of minor and sometimes larger damage in unexpected areas. The beautiful terraced slopes between Elthorne Park and the Grand Union Canal, which we call Elthorne Terraces, seem to be the hotspot.

Trees are snapped off, branches are torn. Fires are lit, sometimes with the least appropriate fuel of green wood, and of course there’s a range of litter from drink cans and bottles to shoes and garments. Most baffling and frustrating is the repeated theft of rabbit guards. Rabbit guards. Really. I am serious. The prompt return of the little critters and subsequent damage from rabbit bites is guaranteed. Some of the bites marks look more like penknife practise to me, but whether the damage is done directly or by proxy makes no difference to me.

I cannot summarise my exact thoughts and feelings in language suitable for a public web site posting, but I am happy to dispense explicit lectures upon request. No appointment necessary; you’ll find us every Tuesday evening tidying up after you along the orchard trail.