Steyning Community Orchard News. January 2021

Greetings to all our friends.

We, like many local community groups, have experienced a very different year to the one expected. There was no Bioblitz, an exciting project which we planned to share with Steyning Greening, the Steyning Downland Scheme and the Steyning Festival; there was no May Fair; no Apple Day and no Big Picnic!!

But....a spark of light in the gloom - fruit Trees are not affected by Covid19! Generally, they grow and bear fruit in spite of drought, storms and flood. Their quality may vary of course. This year there were some late frosts but happily this did not affect the pollination and setting of the fruit. So, here in Sussex we have had a very good year with huge fruit crops particularly of apples.

Like many voluntary groups, we have had very little income.  So, the SCO Steering Group got together, gathered apples from around the area, filled 60 bottles with apple juice and booked a stall at the Farmers Market in October.  We sold out very rapidly, and we now have enough funds to keep us going for the moment. These funds were boosted by the sale of ‘Apple’ cards and notelets - Sue Merrikin’s paintings of fruit and blossom from trees in our orchards.

Donors have been the bed rock of the success of the SCO project since we started in 2014. We have now planted 50 fruit trees in our two main orchards and over 140 fruit trees in total across Steyning, Bramber and Beeding.

We send a huge thank you to all the generous people who have supported our efforts.
We have now reached the point where patience is needed as we wait for the trees to grow into maturity. They require care and attention to make sure they grow healthily and are disease free, ready to give the community an abundance of fruit......not forgetting the birds and the bees!

It is interesting to see how the growth of the trees has varied in the different orchards.  The growth in the SDO (where the land has been fallow for many years) exceeds that of the MPF where compaction of the ground from lawn mowing, and general walking might be the reason for less vigour.

Usually the purpose of our “Your Steyning”  January article is to encourage you all to come to the Wassail in the MPF led by the wonderful Mythago Morris Side and afterwards to enjoy the welcome in the Cricket Club with hot soup and music from groups within the Steyning area. Sadly, this is not to be - but Mythago have been booked for January 2021!.

And we’ll be doing some planting - 9 more donated trees in the MPF and SDO during February and early March.

So, let us hope that 2021 will be a year of recovery from the pandemic and all its consequences, and a fruitful year in the orchards.

Thank you for your continuing support.
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