We are always keen to manage our sites for people and nature and strive to improve the biodiversity of flora and fauna present. We also enjoy learning and improving our knowledge of the natural world.
We've recently discovered that Herefordshire Biological Records Centre is running a series of free natural history training events during the coming year. These are on diverse subjects such as amphibians, birds, butterflies, botany, grasses and earthworms - all of which should be present in a good traditional orchard.
The courses are being held at the Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre in Rotherwas or at other locations in Herefordshire. Sadly the one on traditional orchards, scheduled for Saturday 22nd January 2022, has been postponed but we'll keep an eye on any new dates for that.
To see a full list of the courses available and see more details please visit the Events page of the Herefordshire Biological Records Centre website by clicking on the button below.
Those of you used to visiting our website will be accustomed to various group photos of our volunteers and may even recognise a few faces that regularly feature!
This image is different. We recently encountered this group of walkers at Lugg's Mill orchard. They were passing through the orchard making benefit of the new public footpath that runs through the site - greatly improving the connectivity of the community orchard with the wider public footpath network.
The walkers also used our new benches, which are growing in number at our sites by popular demand.
Walkers and visitors are always welcome at both of our sites in Old Church Road, Colwall and we'd suggest that repeat visits are useful to enjoy all that's to be seen during the changing seasons.
Taking a break during one of regular Friday morning volunteering sessions are Chiara and Rosie.
They are trying out one of our newly constructed bespoke benches. This one is sited near the pond at Colwall Village Garden and provides a lovely resting spot with views across the icy water, to the community orchard, with the Malvern Hills as a splendid backdrop.
We don't mind the cold and frosty conditions. The drop in temperatures helps with natural pest control and many types of orchard trees benefit significantly from a period of chilling during the winter months.
For us it's a time to wrap up warm, continue with our orchard maintenance tasks and enjoy the scenery.
Suddenly the build up to Xmas seems very real.
We are now into winter and the orchard seasons have changed gear yet again and we are into the time for tree planting and mistletoe management.
Here Irene can be seen bagging up freshly harvested mistletoe from Stamps Orchard in preparation for our Mistletoe Fair on 4th December.
Stamps Orchard contains many lovely old fruit trees and is a local stronghold for mistletoe and for wildlife generally. As we worked we could hear and see the green woodpeckers nearby.
We were delighted to be working in Stamps Orchard again - one of our favourite traditional orchards.
Andy and Louise take a break from work to discuss future management of the orchard which will include further removal of surplus mistletoe, and continuation of gapping up work, with a further 20 new fruit trees to be planted over the winter period.
Funding of this tree planting work is through the Farming In Protected Landscapes (FiPL) scheme, funded by DEFRA, and facilitated by the Malvern Hills AONB, as part of Colwall Orchard Group's Traditional Orchards for the Future Initiative (TOFI).
The historic venue of Colwall St James the Great Church gave us the opportunity to attract both customers and the local wildlife (!) to our carefully laid out stall.
This was part of the Colwall Craft Fair, held on Saturday 20th November, where we joined other local artist, craftspeople and artisans selling their wares.
Thanks to everyone who supported us -whether existing or new customers - and to the organisers from the Church.
We had an enjoyable and successful time.
We have a diverse group of people working quietly away in their kitchens making a wide range of produce using ingredients grown and harvested locally. Thanks team!
Pictured are the ingredients of one of our favourites - Hedgerow Jam - as part of our selection of jams, jellies, chutneys, apple cider and juice.
Missed the Fair on Saturday? Don't worry there will be another opportunity to buy your Xmas goodies from us at our Mistletoe Fair on Saturday 4th December.
Otherwise, you can also always purchase goods online if you live local to us.
A big thumbs up from one of our young visitors to the October 2021 Apple Day. It was simply a wonderful day.
The sun shone, and family groups came in their droves to visit us at Colwall Village Garden.
Apples got pressed, with the juice sampled, blended and bottled.
Tim Dixon helped identify apples.
The crowd were entertained by local band 'Banjaxed'.
Kids (and adults!) played orchard games.
Drinks flowed and those who were hungry feasted on freshly cooked fare from our barbeque and cob pizza oven, followed by home-baked cake and tea.
It was a very relaxed and convivial atmosphere and we were delighted to welcome friends old and new.
A massive thanks to all who worked so hard to make this happen, to those who supported us in a wide variety of ways and those who came on the day.
One to remember, and it was lovely to get back to some sense of normality.
A representative selection of images are displayed below.
We are exceptionally grateful to Waitrose and Partners who contacted us recently to say that they'd seen our website and were impressed by our work.
They have included us in their 'Give A Little Love' initiative and have kindly supported us with a big financial contribution of £500.
Pictured - with a large and very generous cheque - are Rosa Kauppinen, Community Activator for Waitrose Great Malvern; Lindsay our Chair and Wendy our Secretary.
We plan to use the money to make improvements at Colwall Village Garden for the benefit of people and nature. More details to follow.
As many of you know Colwall Orchard Group provides a service to members and friends by collating together orders for fruit trees, ornamental and native trees and hedge plants, as well as soft fruit bushes (raspberries, blackcurrants, etc). We get trade discount which we share with you and add a bit to our funds.
We order mostly through Frank P Matthews, or Walcott Organic Nursery or RV Roger Nursery so have a look at their websites to get an idea of what is on offer but bear in mind that there is a wider choice available for trade accounts so if you have something in mind let us know.
We are also happy to have a chat with you if you would like some advice about what to plant. Or, if you are looking for inspiration, have a look around the community orchard at Colwall Village Garden. Many of the trees are labelled with the variety here, although this is work in progress.
You can send your requests now and through to the end of October by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will do our best to get the trees delivered for you to collect from Colwall Village Garden in December.
We are reliably informed that this is a Great Crested Newt larva and this was found recently in our pond at Colwall Village Garden.
We are very pleased to have found this inhabitant which was identified during a recent survey of the pond by the Ledbury Naturalists - Survey Group who are doing a survey of the flora and fauna of our sites this year.
Great Crested Newts are a protected species. They are the UK's largest native newt species and get their name from the crest which develops in the back of males during the mating season (as shown above).
Their presence in our pond is a good indicator of the favourable health of the pond which we continue to manage in a low intervention manner.
It's mid August and a subtle change in the way that the allotments at Colwall Village Garden are run is just taking place. Following a recent Extraordinary General Meeting of Colwall Allotment Association (CAA) it was agreed to disband the CAA and transfer all tenancy agreements to Colwall Orchard Trust (COT) which is the formal name of our charity, but otherwise known as Colwall Orchard Group (COG), the site landowner.
COG has setup an Allotment Working Group to run the allotments under a 'direct letting' management model.
A new organisation - Colwall Allotment Society - has been created to which all allotment tenants automatically become members.
The allotments are a vibrant part of Colwall Village Garden and bring people and life to the site with plots visited on a daily basis throughout much of the year. The allotments plots are proudly tended by the allotment plot holders, and much-admired by those who visit the site.
A wide variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers are grown on the 58 plots of varying sizes providing a plethora of produce for both people (and nature!).
We are looking forward to keeping the allotments as an important part of the site and hope to maintain and further improve facilities at Colwall Village Garden, for the benefit of all, over the coming months and years.
A 3rd Sunday of the Month morning work party session at Colwall Village Garden saw great progress being made on some new rustic compost bins. These are being made from chestnut posts and rails, and offcuts of timber from a local wood supplier.
This was a very well-attended Sunday volunteer session with around 20 people present and we were very pleased to have help from three new volunteers attending for the first time.
The compost bins will be used to compost materials that we generate from the general maintenance of the site - weeding, grass clippings, orchard prunings and strimming waste. Our preferred composting mix is 50% green material and 50% woody material.
Any resemblance of the finished structure looking like some sort of a re-enactment of a Time Team historical study is purely coincidental.....
Sometimes there are days when even the keenest orchard enthusiast is defeated by the weather and stays indoors. On those occasions it's great to settle down with a good book and we're excited to share news of the release of an upcoming new one written by Wade Muggleton. Wade is a good friend and supporter of ours, and a very well-respected orchard expert who has already written a county pomona on the apples and orchards of Worcestershire.
The Orchard Book promises to be that rare read which provides a comprehensive, informative and entertaining guide to orchards no matter how large or small your plot is.
We've only been able to preview the book online but from the beautiful front cover to the wonderfully laid out, and easy to read content, this is going to be a book that you'll be pleased to own.
You can pre-order a copy from the Permaculture Market at https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/the-orchard-book-plan.html with a publication date of 31st October. The book has 160 pages and is very modestly priced at only £12.95. We will be adding a copy to the COG library.
This year we're celebrating ten years at our main site at Colwall Village Garden. This 10 minute video records some of the story so far...