East of England Apples and Orchards Project – a training day at Little Downham

The East of England Apples and Orchards Project is a local charity that works to preserve and promote orchard fruits. It grows stock of about 250 varieties of fruit trees that come from Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. This includes the apples that were bred in Histon and Impington, Histon Favourite and Chivers Delight, as well as the Cottenham apple, the Jolly Miller and the Cambridge Gage that was also bred in Histon.

Learning when and how to prune was part of the practical aspects of the course.

Last November, a few of the HICOP enthusiasts went to Little Downham to attend EEAOP’s course on Creating an Orchard. We had a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting day, learning about the practical aspects of how to plan, plant and look after a community orchard. It certainly opened our eyes to the possibilities…orchards are much more than just apples and could include pears, plums, gages, damsons, medlars, cherries, quince and cobnuts. The hedge that surrounds the orchard is also an opportunity for creating a native natural food bar for insects, animals and people!

Little Downham Orchard….this photo of the site was taken shortly after planting.

The most useful part of the course was a visit to Little Downham Orchard. This community orchard covers the same area of land that we’re planning to plant; it was really inspiring to see an orchard similar to the one we’re creating. The Little Downham Orchard was planted six years ago and the trees are now really taking shape, and producing fruit. Keith Norton who was very involved in the establishment of the Little Downham Orchard, will be giving a talk at the HICOP AGM on Wednesday 25th January, so do come along if you’d like to find out more.