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.
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.’