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

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

We are making steady progress with a range of tasks. It might not have looked like we made much progress on the ground on Thursday, but we did some essential decision making about the size and positioning of the shed. We even called on Pythagoras for some to help to ensure are walls are perpendicular.  

On Friday Dennis laid the first stones for the foundation layer, once stone was collected from around the orchard. The shed is taking shape! However, it’s been a long cold winter and the cows stayed in the barns for longer than normal, hence they needed more straw. In fact they (and I guess other animals) needed it all. There is no straw to be had in England. So a key ingredient of the shed is eluding us but we want to carry on with this method of construction having chosen it as the best solution (insulation, fire proof, rodent proof, temporary if necessary). 

Other tasks have included installation of a bench (almost), cutting under the trees and feeding with compost moved from the shed area. 

We had a visit from Postcode Local Trust on Thursday. It was great to be able to show them the Orchard and the work that we are carrying out with Operation Orchard, as a result of the funding they have awarded. 

 
 

Blossom Day; Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

What a change in a few short days. Never have we had a display of blossom like this for Blossom Day; most of the trees were in full flower. Belle de Boskoop was a blousy white and ladened with flowers, Winston is still emerging and slightly pink (mostly the blossom seems very pale this year). Dog’s Snout is looking attractive, and this is really the time to admire the quince which no doubt will deteriorate as the summer develops (is it suffering from quince blight?). It looks like the Bramley may be having a restful year with a smallish crop, and Blenheim Orange and Pitmaston Pineapple seem to have fallen into a biennial fruiting habit, with this being their off year. 

We could hardly tell the mower was in use last week, so we gave the paths a further mow, and carried on with barking other paths and seating areas. But today was really about enjoying the space, eating apple and rhubarb cakes and apple and parsnip soup,  doing a bit of drawing/investigation. 

 
 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

This was the start of the next phase of work at the orchard, an intense period that should see a conclusion to infrastructure improvements of Operation Orchard. 

Spring seems to be almost here; there was even a little bit of blossom open on Beauty of Bath. We did our first mow of the season, cutting paths through the grass areas. On the whole we leave most of the grass to grow long and create habitat for the essential predators which will keep the trees healthy and productive. The paths, as well as leading us in and around the trees, also create some height diversity in the sward so the habitat is suitable for a greater number of invertebrates. 
The other tasks were focussed on clearing and levelling the area for the shed, and preparing the area around the new benches ready to lay weed suppressant and a bark covering. To be continued…
 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

Today we focussed on thinning out and reducing the height of some of the perimeter trees. It is important we do let these get too big as we do not want them shade the allotments. It also supports the allotment association’s aims to get better views across the allotments  in a bid to improve security. 

Thank you to the volunteers who helped transport volunteers and tools in the absence of the minibus. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

Another cold start, and today the temperature cannot have risen much above freezing as none of the snow or ice melted, even in full sun. We made a tentative start to the pruning; it’s not ideal in such cold conditions but also we wanted to complete the installation of the veg bed to avoid carrying timber around again. We have used oak sleepers, so whilst we will appreciate the durability, they were heavy to handle and resisted the nails. We persevered and completed the job. 

We pruned almost all the soft fruit – this has been missed the past couple of years, so whilst it leaves us with a lot of pruning to do on subsequent visits, it was a prickly job, well done. 

 
 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Final touches before Apple Day. The last bench, for the moment, was installed, and another had new legs installed. Final bits of grass cutting, weeding and removal of fallen apples made the orchard vaguely presentable. More apples were harvested – we had to take these away as the shed was full of ones ready for the juicer on Sunday. They will come back on Sunday. If only we had a storage shed for the apples….!

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

06 10 17We had another couple of bags of hardcore delivered today and have finished levelling the shelter area. We will assess how it goes on Apple Day, perhaps we will run a whacker plate over it when we get a new one or can borrow one. Bothe the tables/work surfaces are finished under the shelter and we are looking forward to them being transformed into cake and falapple stalls next weekend. 

Three of the four news benches were installed by the espaliers. The timber legs are rather larger than ideal but we worked with them and the space is looking inviting. 

Most of the grass has now been cut though we will need to finish this off next week. Despite not having a mower we are doing a good job. We also did the inevitable job of collecting windfalls and harvesting from the trees. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

Please arrive at CF by 9.30am

We are continuing to tackle the infrastructure improvements at the orchard, with the aim of installing the new benches, paths and shelter tables and ‘floor’ before Apple Day.

If you plan to come today it would be useful if you could let us know. Thanks