Bowling Park Community Orchard

bee on Keswick Codling Blossom: Bees are essential for the pollination of the fruit, so we manage the orchard to attract them.bee on Keswick Codling Blossom

You won't be surprised to hear that we cannot run an Apple Day as we know and love this year.

This is especially disappointing as we would have been celebrating out 20th Anniversary, but we are still hoping to host small group visits. Read about our plans here

Complete the booking form and return it to us at bees@bradfordymca.org.uk to secure your slot. 

Hope to see you soon!

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The Harvest 2020

Reflecting a challenging year all round, the harvest this season has been severely compromised by frost and we have a fraction of the number of apples of previous years. Hardly any eating apples - even Katy, normally so prolific, has only had a few apples, which means we have not mean able to make any juice this year. 

Keswick Codling has done well, but coming towards the end of it's shelf life. Make sure you book onto one of the orchard visit slots if you want a  few. 

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The 2019 Harvest.

We harvested a grand total of 994 kilograms of top fruit (take the blackcurrants into account and we may well have made it to a ton!)
969.5 Kg apples and 24.5 Kg plums and pears. 

Coming in top of the list is Bramley who produced 122 kg, but a special mention has to go to Katy with a whooping 121.75 kg - so productive for a smaller tree. We even managed to make better use of the Katy apples this year by pressing 60 kg in late September to make juice. 

Our weighing methods wouldn't pass any weights and measures quality control, but it gives a good indication of the potential of the orchard to provide locally grown organic fruit. 

So, what do we do with it all? 
Of course some of it gets eaten fresh; some straight from the tree, some stored and filling our apple fruit bowl through to the spring. There are plenty of Bramley in the store, as well as Ribston Pippin, Jupiter and several other eating varieties. 

But we also make pasteurised juice, chutney, jam and dried apples. 
We have finished our autumn and winter markets for the time being, so just get in touch if you wish to arrange to buy any apples or products. 

What's on at the orchard?

Work days through the winter will be organised as part of BEES conservation volunteer group - keep an eye on this page or email bees@bradfordymca.org.uk to be added to the mailing list. 

In addition Friends of Bowling Park Community Orchard will continue to gather at the orchard on the third Saturday of the month, 10 am till 1 pm. These sessions are not organised by BEES. People meet at the orchard (sometimes arranging to share lifts but there is no minibus transport provided) and we liaise to bring appropriate tools and refreshments. 

If you use Facebook the easiest way to keep in touch with plans for the Saturday sessions is to joining the Friends of Bowling Park Community Orchard Facebook Group. This is a closed group used mainly just to communicate about details of sessions, with very occasional extra bits of info. Or email bees@bradfordymca.org.uk and we will be in touch about sharing email addresses etc. 

The sessions are occasionally changed or cancelled if too many of the group are unable to attend, and the gates to the allotments are locked so we do need to arrange to meet for your first visit. 

Alert - I am not sure if anyone will be at the orchard on 21st December, but there will be a pruning session on 14th December, 10.30 am instead (as long as weather does not prohibit). Send a Facebook message or text BEES (07970 621732) by 4 pm on Friday 13th if you want to come for the first time. 

 

Apple Day 2019

We held our 20th Apple Day Sunday 13th October 2019.
(Our first Apple Day was held at Shipley College in October 2000 - so 20 events so far (well actually in 2006 we held two Apple Days, one at the orchard and one at Shipley College, so really 21...), but we our celebrating 20 years in October 2020!). 

We have written a brief report here

Apple Day 2020.

We will set a provisional date at the Bradford Apple Group AGM on 11th December. 

As ever, we can only hold the event if we have sufficient volunteers to make it manageable. We will be recruiting soon, please consider getting involved so we are confident we can make the best of 20th anniversary celebration. 

Friends of BPCO

The Friends of Bowling Park Community Orchard was established in 2005 to take forward responsibility for management of the orchard. It is a loose, unconstituted organisation which to date is mainly made up of BEES volunteers. The 'friends' commit to management sessions to supplement the volunteer task days that BEES organise at the orchard. We plan to have work sessions in the evening during summer months, and dates will be publicised here once they are arranged. Anyone is welcome to join the group, please contact BEES is you are interested.

Our first wassail

We enjoyed our first wassail at the orchard at the end of January 2017. We'd thought of doing it many times, but never quite got round to it. 

Sue led us in a few appropriate words around Belle de Boskoop, our most productive tree, but really it was just an excuse to have a social gathering at the orchard. We had a fire to get rid of prunings and hedge cuttings and it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and take stock of what we need to do to have a successful year ahead.

There are some key tasks to undertake; revamping the paths, benches and shelters, ongoing grass cutting, weeding etc. We need to create more storage for apples. Can we make something (a straw bale shed, flowering roof?), or shall we buy a shed? We want to continue to increase nectar sources in the orchard so the bees are happy all year round.

How do we coordinate work days and harvesting visits?  Interestingly a re-read of our management plan (attached at the bottom of this page) highlights the lack of any mention of the harvest! This is now a key task, and crucial that we plan it properly so that we make the best use of the apples. 

So, at the same time as updating the management plan we will make sure this year's action plan reflects what we need to do and how we are going to do it. 

If you have got any ideas, or want to get involved, please get in touch

About Bowling Park Community Orchard

The orchard is developed on six disused allotment plots adjacent to Bowling Park.

In March 2003 we planted over 40 trees including

  • 35 varieties of apple,
  • 6 pears and
  • 4 plums.

The orchard is managed by BEES conservation volunteers and we have established the Friends of Bowling Park Community Orchard who we hope will take responsibility for the orchard into the future. New members are welcome - please contact BEES if you wish to find out more.

Bowling Park Community Orchard Management Plan

The management plan is attached at the bottom of the page. It gives an overview of the orchard; background, ethos, intentions and an outline of the seasonal work plan.

Please get in touch if you have any comments.

BPCOrchard Harvesting Record

The harvesting record shows the weight of each variety of apple harvested each year.

More

Community Orchard Development

BEES has been involved in developing Community Orchards at Bowling Park Allotments, Redcliffe (Keighley) and in many school grounds.

Why?
We see them as a place to grow fruit, develop wildlife habitats and create sociable urban green space.

Orchard cultivation nationally has declined by 57% since 1950. Community Orchards offer the opportunity to counteract this decline whilst learning and sharing fruit growing skills and growing varieties that are distinctive of our locality and that we cannot readily buy elsewhere. They offer space for wildlife and for the community to celebrate and enjoy the harvest and heritage surrounding fruit growing and its use.

External Links

 

Directions

Map of BPCO

 

You can find the Orchard on Google Maps with this address; Bowling Park Community Orchard, Bowling Park Drive, Bradford BD4 7ES

By Bus from Bradford Interchange

Bus information is also available at: www.wymetro.com

The orchard is within the allotment site which can only be accessed from Bowling Park Drive.

Open access is available when we are holding events. If you wish to visit at other times please contact us.

I'm not sure if this bus info is up to date , especially for Sundays. Will check soon

624 - Get off at Paley Road near the Junction of Bowling Park Drive.
675 - Get off at Parkside Road near the Junction with Avenue road

 
Geolocation

53.777934, -1.744025

Conservation Work

Shed Building 21st Sept and w/c 24th Sept

workshop and orchard

An update with proposed work days over the next week as we approach the actual construction of the shed. 

Friday 21st Sept; we will go to the orchard in the morning. We will be fixing the base plate in position and organising the area around the shed for the build next week.
We will also be harvesting, and carrying on with hedge cutting etc.
We will be returning to Culture Fusion by early afternoon  - there is still more to do in the workshop, but also essential work to remove dandelion seedlings from the meadow.

Monday 24th Sept; the straw is being delivered in the morning. I don't know exactly what time but they will give us a bit of notice. My plan is to be at Culture Fusion from 9am, working in the workshop until they ring, and then going to the orchard. If you are able to help unload the straw adn move to the orchard, either come to Culture Fusion early on, or I can text you once I know an arrival time. Please let me know if you can help. Once the straw is safely stored we will return to Culture Fusion to continue with the timber work. Unfortunately we are behind schedule, but cannot start to assemble the straw until all the timber work is ready. 

Tuesday 25th Sept; workshop to complete (hopefully) the timber work. Who knows, we might even be in a position to go to the orchard. 

Wednesday 26th Sept; we really hope to be at the orchard today starting to assemble the straw. I cannot predict how long it will take to get the bales in place, so either today or tomorrow we will get the roof plate in place. 

Thursday 27th Sept; orchard, roof plate and rafters. 

Friday 28th Sept; at orchard  - roof, fascias etc (!!). We may even start some of the rendering, but you will have to wait for a further update for a clearer timescale on this. 

Saturday and Sunday - lets see...

While we at the orchard there are of course the regular Sept jobs; harvesting, grass cutting, hedge cutting, general weeding. 

Please can you let me know if and when you are planning to come. The above is an estimated plan, but those of you who have been involved to date will realise how over optimistic I have been with progress to date. I will give updates to progress and each day's work locations to those that plan to come or want to be kept informed, rather than to my entire email group.

I'm pretty confident in saying that this is the one and only opportunity for you to be involved in building a straw bale structure as part of a BEES programme. Don't miss out! 

Bowling Park Community Orchard - to be updated

either orchard or workshop

We will probably be at the orchard (in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive) , but may change at short notice. We will email and update the website.

[At this stage we would like to keep the schedule for September flexible. We need to get the shed built by the end of the month. Some of this will be in the workshop, but when we come to the actual construction it will need to be consecutive days, in dry weather. We will email specific work days as we progress. If you only receive the programme by post and want to be kept informed then please ring the office to let us know].

Orchard project - in Culture Fusion workshop.

125 Thornton Road

We are going to be at Culture Fusion today, working in the workshop on the timberwork for the shed. 

[At this stage we would like to keep the schedule for September flexible. We need to get the shed built by the end of the month. Some of this will be in the workshop, but when we come to the actual construction it will need to be consecutive days, in dry weather. We will email specific work days as we progress. If you only receive the programme by post and want to be kept informed then please ring the office to let us know].

Bowling Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Cutting the hedgeCutting the hedgeAnother visit to the orchard to continue various tasks including path and hedge cutting and harvesting the Beauty of Bath apples. We started the summer pruning of the espaliers and the stone fruit. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in allotments on Bowling Park Drive

beesbeesThe walling stone arrived today so the first job, for some, was to barrow it over the shed area and sort to assess size. Dennis then set about completing the rectangle to form the foundations. There is more to be done but a good start was made. 

We cut branches cut overhanging from around the pond to allow more light in. This will be completed in winter. More water was carried and barrowed from the water butt. Let’s hope it is of help to the pondlife.

The flower bed by Keswick Codling has been weeded and the Field Scabious is looking good. Straw was laid under Beauty of Bath and Katy – the two trees that are most likely have fallers that we don’t want to bruise. Two of the fallen apples were eaten – the first of the year – and no they weren’t quite ripe!

Also more weeding, watering and fruit picking. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Another day at the orchard, and even though I messed up on arranging a delivery of stone, there was still plenty to do, not least picking more blackcurrants and gooseberries. 

More preparation of the shed area was done, including distributing the bagged compost around the trees. Ash from the fire was also sprinkled under the trees and fruit bushes to add potash to the soil. 

We started on the hedge cutting tasks with great affect, especially where it will let more sun onto the lower branches of Katy. Of course we now have more hedge cuttings to dispose of after burning the last lot last week.  Alison made a start on weeding the bed nears Keswick Codling and Maddy made great progress removing nettles and cleavers from the hedges around the fruit bushes. Safaa and Tesfaye did a sterling job carry water from the water butts to the pond in the far opposite corner of the orchard

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in allotments on Bowling Park Drive

What a scorcher. Just the weather for digging great deep holes for the remaining benches! We have now completed our replacement of the benches, they are in a slightly different, less symmetric arrangement, but perfectly good to sit on. 

Extra netting was added to the fruit bed, which were weeded and mulched with comfrey. 

More mowing, more weeding, more watering; all expected fare in June on an allotment. 

Hoverflies on the hogweed, ringlets and meadow brown butterflies and lacewings in the grass, bees on the comfrey. It looks like we are managing to attract the beneficial insects required for organic gardening. 

 
 

Bowling Park Orchard

in allotments on Bowling Park Drive

We secured posts to support netting over the gooseberries and blackcurrants today, though it exposed the imminent need to replace the rotting bed edging in the near future. More weeding and watering of vegetables and flowers, and mowing of the pathways. 

Well done to Tesfaye who managed to coax the reluctant wacker plate into life. We had barrowed 2 tonne of fine path topping to improve the final surface of the shelter, and put some aside to foot the shed. 

The comfrey is in flower attracting a lot of bees. It is evident that the frost has damaged some of the flowers as developing fruit is limited, though not necessarily to a bad extent – it will ave thinning out the clusters. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

Two contrasting days, in both tasks and weather. On Thursday, whilst Dennis worked away at the foundations the rest of us had a visit to the timber yard to talk to Richard Kirby of Outdoor Classrooms about our design. It was great to look around the workshop and see the sort of buildings that Richard is making. His experience led him to suggest a different approach than the one we had planned so instead of coming away with timber, we left the yard with food for thought and some more homework to do. Back at the orchard it was scorching, and just enough time for a bit of watering and weeding. 

No need for watering on Friday. It rained most of the day and we all got thoroughly soaked and covered in mud. We installed two large benches which involved getting right down into a muddy hole. We also planted a range of plants to add nectar into the grasses. These included Brunnera, comfrey, chervil, loveage, foxgloves and mahonia. We replanted the herb bed as well, and in general did well to persist through to the end of the afternoon.