We will be holding a Blossom Day celebration in the orchard on Sunday 30 April 2023, between 2pm and 4pm. As well as an opportunity to enjoy the blossom, there will be guided tours around the orchard, introducing visitors to the swift tower, the beehive and the stool bed where we are propagating rootstocks. Bring a picnic and enjoy the orchard with us.
Orchard Blossom Day was an event launched a couple of years ago by the UK Orchard Network, but of course fruit tree blossom has been celebrated for centuries, and by some very famous artists including those shown below – Millais, Van Gogh and David Hockney. Why not take some photos or bring your sketchbook (digital or paper) and make the most of this fleeting beauty? We would love to share your images of the orchard here.
We’ve had a swift tower in the orchard for over ten years now, and we’ve had resident swifts for the last few years, enticed by recorded swift calls coming from the tower. However, we have noticed that some pesky squirrels have been gnawing at the entrance holes in the swift box. The squirrels might want to move in, or even predate any eggs and chicks they find. So, with further help from the Swift Conservation charity, we have squirrel-proofed the swift tower.
A group of orchard and swift conservation volunteers wrestled with scaffold towers ,scaffold boards and rope and managed to remove the damaged front and sides of the swift box. They emptied ten years worth of nesting material and replaced the front and sides with a slightly different profile – this includes some metal reinforcements to deter squirrels from chewing the nest box entrance holes. At the same time they have moved the lower bat box on the tower to above the other bat box, in the hope that this will also make access to the nesting area harder for the squirrels. Fingers crossed that our resident swifts like their improved home when they return.
Wassailing is a celebration of our orchard and its trees. It’s a way of thanking them with libations of apple juice, and of scaring away any bad influences with music and dancing. We also ‘toast’ the trees by hanging toast, dipped in apple juice, from the branches. Centuries ago the wassailing included firing shotguns and lighting bonfires, but we are not going to do either of those things, so we are relying on you to make the noise and bring some torchlight.
Come along to the orchard at 2pm on SUNDAY 15 JANUARY 2023 to help us wassail our trees. This is a free event, but we rely on donations to keep the orchard functioning. Dress for the weather; it can be a little muddy underfoot. Children are very welcome, but remember there are no facilities, such as toilets, on the site. And finally please park considerately in this residential area.
We look forward to wishing you a hearty ‘Was Hael!’
Many thanks to the magnificent team of Astra Zeneca employees who came down to the orchard and donated their own time and effort last week. They worked really hard, and the orchard looks amazing as a result. They weeded and mulched the circles around the trees, repaired the herb garden and waged war on the brambles. Astra Zeneca also donated some funds for the mulch and some other supplies, and we are very grateful for this help.
Bugs and Swifts for the Heritage Open Days Sunday 18 September 2022 14:00 – 16:00
Take a tour around our small plant-filled oasis designed to enhance the community and promote biodiversity and educate people about fruit production, wildflower meadows and conservation.
Innovation is not just technology, but the integration of sustainable food production with biodiversity and conservation is an innovative approach to a new way of living to minimize consumerism and maximize a positive environmental impact.
The visit will highlight how the community orchard and wildflower meadow contribute to biodiversity, illustrated by the bugs found. In addition the swift tower and observational beehive illustrate the possible contribution to conservation as both swifts and bees have been in decline (sadly this year swifts have been added to the red list, emphasizing the urgent need for action).
Trumpington Community Orchard illustrates how nature needs to be the central consideration in all INNOVATIVE community planning.
No booking required, just turn up. Please park considerately in this residential area. The event is free but we rely on donations to keep the orchard going.
You may have seen the wooden box on legs tucked into the orchard, and wondered what it was. A weather station, maybe? (No.) An illicit cider still? (Definitely not!) A bug house? (We have those elsewhere, good guess, but no.) It is in fact an observation hive for bees. It can be opened to reveal a glass front and back, not so the bees can see out, but so that we can see in. Recently our local expert beekeeper, Dave, noticed that some bees had built a honeycomb inside, and sent some pictures. Dave explained:
‘The pictures show the natural comb the bees have built between the two panes of glass. The bees have built the comb around two dowl rods inside to give it more strength, because if it is very hot weather and there is a lot of honey in the comb it can come detached without an anchoring point. By the time these pictures were taken (9th May), the bees had built so much comb around them that the dowels no longer show. This kind of hive does not allow a bee keeper to take any honey from the bees. Instead, if the colony ever dies out, wooden batons holding the glass in place will need to be removed to allow the hive to be cleared out ready for a fresh swarm to be introduced.’
You can ask to see the hive in action – just drop us an email or a message. It is often open if Dave or another volunteer is working in the orchard so look out for the notices on our board. We hope the bees have a great summer.
We took the hard decision not to hold a wassail (a traditional ceremony to honour the apple trees) this year. I know other orchards held large and enthusiastic wassails, but our space is small and we have to think about the potential risks.
But never fear, our Maintenance Session volunteers saw to it that the trees received their usual blessing of a libation of apple juice poured at their roots, and pieces of toast hung in the branches. When we started this orchard over a decade ago, our first wassail was three of the founders (including me) singing some kind of song and banging a saucepan, and a few neighbours came out to see what the racket was. Since then the wassail grew into a really sizeable and popular event, and we have had everything from lantern processions to a wheelbarrow orchestra to folk dressed as Green Men and Women, and as penguins. In the last few years wassailing has been re-discovered, re-invented and revived across the country (I think we were way ahead of the trend.) Wassailing is certainly a tradition of this orchard, and it will carry on, in some way or another, every year.
Our Open Cambridge event on Saturday 11 September was a great success. Susanna, who is one of our founder members, said, ‘Saturday went really well with sunshine and lots of happy families joining us at the orchard for the bug hunt and plant potting. Tristan did a stoic job leading the bug hunt and showing people how to use a key to help identify the ” beasties”. There were magnificent spiders , grass hoppers and a couple of fat crickets and every one had a fantastic time. Rosa was in charge of greeting our guests and selling apple juice as well as collecting donations. I led the potting up session with a selection of strawberries, sage and rosemary that I’d set up a few weeks ago from runners or cuttings from my allotment. Everyone took at least one plant home with instructions of how to care for them. One enterprising child found a rosemary beetle and then potted up some rosemary to take home so that she could keep the beetle as a pet ( with parental consent of course!) Chris has been busy again making a shelter at the entrance to the orchard (prompted by us getting soaked on Friday evening when we went down to set up the notice board). He has also painted the sign on the gate and re-varnished the wood so our kissing gate looks beautiful. Dave has not had a chance to put bees into the observation hive this year but a colony has moved in anyway.’
On Saturday 11th September 2021 from 2 – 4pm in the orchard, we will be searching for as many bugs and minibeasts as we can find. All creatures, once examined and recorded, will be carefully returned to where we found them.
Come along and see what you can find. No experience necessary, and no knowledge of bugs required.
Last time we did this, we found a lot of bugs!
This event is part of Open Cambridge It is a free event, but donations to keep our orchard going are much appreciated.
Trumpington Community Orchard cannot keep going without volunteer help and support, and we are so pleased that the Tzu Chi Cambridge Collegiate Society enjoyed their volunteering sessions with us, and are looking forward to more. The group have sent us these lovely photos, and one of the Society’s members, Yin, shared her thoughts:
“Contributing to environmental awareness is one of our objectives in forming the Tzu Chi Cambridge Collegiate Society. We are thrilled to start with volunteering in local community gardens. This week, we received a warm welcome from the Trumpington Community Orchard. It was blessed to have a sunny Sunday to put our hands in the soil. We happily meet new friends Susanna and Chris, our lovely local eco-warriors and knowledgeable green lovers. More than volunteering, we learned so much in the Orchard. It was our first time to know such varieties of Cambridgeshire heritage apples. The efforts that the Orchard team put in biodiversity and planting were much appreciated. Susanna also showed us how to recognize commonly seen plants in Cambridge, such as the cute yellow Buttercup, salad burnet, little white Yarrow, and Wood Anemone. It is interesting to see the small bird shed built for the swifts though now it is rented to the sparrows. By the place near Hobson Brook, we also learn about the Brook and Cambridge history. It is amusing to see so many fun things and activities happening in the Trumpington Community Orchard. We were surprised how vivid and lively the Orchard garden is after our volunteering session. We had a lovely time with Susanna getting ourselves close to nature and becoming more aware of our surroundings. We experienced a growth of a healthy mind to respect our environment and shared it with local nature lovers. We hope more friends will join us in the future. Step by step, we will adopt and share an environmentally friendly lifestyle as a community.”
‘The Tzu Chi Cambridge Collegiate Society is an active student society of Cambridge University. The Society is associated with the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international NGO and accredited observer of the United Nations Environment Programme. We share enthusiasm in nature awareness and in learning by doing through local community engagement. We believe that actions, however small, can make a difference and would like to create opportunities for like-minded fellows.’