Bringing the orchard community together across Forth Valley
They said, 'Go Fruit & Nuts!' ...so we did!
The annual Forth Valley Orchards' Week 'Go Fruit & Nuts!' event was again a crowd-pleaser at Callender House in September.
Forth Environment Link (FEL) worked closely with Falkirk Community Trust(FCT) to celebrate all things, well....fruit and nut, with a full programme of displays and interactive activities for the family.
Most of the activities took place on the weekend of 21 & 22 September, but there were some throughout the week and prior to the event.
In the run up to the week, there was a photography competition to select the 12 best photos of orchards and orchard activities. The winners had their entries shown to the public in the digital displays in the Tea Room. Our thanks to anyone who submitted the photos and congratulations to all the winners. The calendar will be available for purchase in October, price £5.
The week itself started with displays about the Forth Valley Orchards Initiative and its various community engagement projects. The FCT Archives Team put together a display of the former orchard at Callender House, so that visitors to the Tea Room were able to browse the information while sampling the excellent fayre on offer (especially the chocolate beetroot muffins!).
On the Wednesday, Dr Crispin Hayes, Eco-Consultancy, gave a presentation at the 'Lunch & Brunch' Talks in the house about the origins of pear growing in the area, its association with the religious houses, and highlighted the findings of his Survey of Traditional Orchards in the Forth Valley commissioned by FEL.
The weekend saw a full programme of exciting and educational activities, led by guests, and supported by an army of enthusiastic volunteers, without whom the event would have been a pale shadow. Here's what happened...
To meet and greet our visitors, a Welcome Table, ably attended by a stalwart band of volunteers, Hilary, Angela, Tracy, and Paul, was located in the house foyer as a point-of-information about all the activities over the weekend. The volunteers were on-hand to point people in the direction of the next activities and look after guests and visitors at the events in the house. Activities in the house were overseen by Amparo Echenique, the Project Support Officer for the Forth Valley Orchards’ Team.
The 'Great Apple Pie Bake-off' Competition was held again after a highly successful first year last year. However, it was disappointing that by the deadline for submission, there were only a small handful of pies for Forth Valley College's Hospitality & Salon Services' Ype van der Schaaf, to judge. Congratulations to the winners: Hilary, Tracy and Karen, and thanks to them for donating their luscious pies to be 'cleared up' by anyone wanting to indulge themselves afterwards!
Clearing up of the pies in the Green Room of the house made way for one of the many high-points of the weekend - the Eco-Drama Group's 'The Forgotten Orchard' play. Playing to a packed house and keeping the children glued to their seats in wonder, Caroline and Rod told the story of Katy, her Grandad, and the apples that he grew. The story encouraged the children to find out how and where their food was grown, and each was given a Discovery apple grown in the Forth Valley as a way of example. Lots of happy faces were seen leaving the room clutching their red and green treasures.
Mark Armour, Head Gardener for the National Trust for Scotland at Kellie Castle, brought his display of over 80 Scottish Apples on the Saturday, and helped visitors identify the fruit that they brought in. Continuing on the Sunday, Andrew Lear, Appletreeman, brought his display along and was able to advise visitors about their fruit.
The walled garden was a buzz of activity all weekend. We were delighted to see colleagues from other groups and organisations joining us. Scottish Allotments & Gardens' Societycame along to talk to anyone interested in growing their own food, whether at home or in an allotment or community garden. Steppin' Stones, a very active environmental group from Cornton in Stirling, and 'On the Verge', a project to plant wildflowers on the roadside verges around Stirling, distributed information about their work. Both work closely together and make an excellent contribution to the development and biodiversity in Stirling.
We were delighted to welcome back our old friends Green Routes of Gartmore, who provide quality training and work experience to young adults with learning disabilities. Their focus this year was on 'Change & Decay' and 'Food Miles', looking at where apples come from across the world, how they get to our plates, and what happens to fruit in the composting cycle.
Steppin' Stones delivered a workshop on the Saturday afternoon on how to convert spare wooden pallets into planters for your trees. Lots of sawing, drilling, and hammering was to be heard in the courtyard of the walled garden, as Sarah Fraser led participants to construct their works of art. They received a bonus in being given a free tree to plant in it when completed. The workshop was delivered as part of the Forth Valley Orchards' Workshop Programme, a series of free orchard-related skills' development activities that are open to the public.
A new activity this year was the 'Art-Attack' in the walled garden, led by former FEL staff member, and current Forth Valley Orchards' group member, Di Blackmore. Di worked with the children using loose materials - pebbles, tiles, beads, coloured wool etc - to create a large and colourful 'Tree of Life', whilst weaving a story around fruit trees and their place in life. The activity was designed to be ephemeral art, giving the children an enjoyable experience but taking nothing physical away: "a good example for life", as Di puts it!
Another innovation this year was to connect the orchard in the walled garden with the Helix Orchard at Beancross, by guided walking and cycling. The route chosen was one that used the new network of Helix foot and cycle paths, over three miles between orchards, and a 6 mile round-trip for the more adventurous, but the Helix Orchard needed some maintenance prior to the event through the head-high vegetation to clear a path and make fruit-picking possible. A small group of FV Orchard Team staff and student placement Isla, hacked and chopped their way through the nettles, thistles and Himalayan Balsam to clear a safe path through.
Once cleared, our FEL staff, Donna, Graham and Iona, and volunteers Allan, Marilyn & David and were on hand at the weekend to take visitors on their bikes and walking from O2O (Orchard-to-Orchard).
This year being a bumper crop for fruit, we had no difficulty in gathering fruit for the 'Chop & Squeeze' juicing activity in the walled garden. Baskets laden with fruit were chopped, crushed and squeezed into a wonderful-tasting juice, voted as the 'best ever' by all who tasted it, and 'far better than bought juice!'.
We are very fortunate to have the expertise of Andrew Lear, Appletreeman, to deliver many of our technical workshops on tree planting, care and maintenance, so we engaged him to give tree pruning and maintenance sessions on the orchard in the walled garden and in the Helix Orchard, through practical demonstrations. These are always informative and people go away with more knowledge and confidence about tackling their own trees.
Margaret Miller, FEL's Schools' Orchard Project Officer, ran some very popular activities for children - story-telling and fruit pancake-making. Speaking to a very attentive audience, Margaret told the story about how the Bloody Ploughman apple got its name and other mysteries of life in orchards. Children and their parents also flocked to the fruit pancake-making to see how easy it is to make fruit pancakes with very few ingredients.
We were also delighted to welcome back Forth Valley Orchard Group member Astrid, re-visiting Scotland from the Netherlands, and who very kindly helped out as a volunteer. There is much we can learn from the Netherlands about fruit tree production, and likewise, Astrid is keen to learn from our community involvement approach.
Capturing all the moments on camera were our 'Roving Reporters', Alistair, Gavin and Gary from Bonnybridge Camera Club. Our grateful thanks to them for their work, which you can see on our website at www.forthvalleysorchards.org.uk and on our Facebook site at Forth Valley Orchards.
We had so much great feedback from our visitors, guests and volunteers about the programme being full and of great quality, and children and adults alike having enjoyed themselves so much. One of the volunteers said, "I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend at Callander House. Everyone was so friendly and helpful- my best volunteering experience to date!".
We are very grateful to everyone who helped make the week a success:
A huge 'THANK YOU' to you all!
'Go Fruit & Nuts!'
We are delighted to announce the dates for the ‘Go Fruit & Nuts!’ 2013 event, the annual celebration of Forth Valley’s orchards and fruit trees.
The event runs from Monday, 16 to Sunday 22 September 2013, when we will be running a fun-filled and educational programme of orchard-focused activities for the family at Callendar House in Falkirk.
This is the first time that we will have held the event over a week and a weekend, and are very excited about working with Falkirk Community Trust again.
To see the programme click here, for updates and news look for us on Twitter @FVOrchards, or on Facebook
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01786 449215
Fruit tree planter workshop
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