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

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 Park Drive

We made a start in levelling the ground under the shelter today. The job itself wasn’t too hard, but we were using up left over stoney soil from the carpark so getting the bags there was pretty gruelling.  We also made a start adding some more support to the shelter to extend it’s life. 

There were also apples to pick, onions to dig and general planning and measuring to do. 

Bowling Park Community orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Pk Drive

Two successful days during which we re-roofed the big shelter in the event space, and removed and replaced the roof over the shed. The roofing on the big shelter was fairly straight forward (challenging but manageable), working systematically along the roof nailing the corrugated bitumen sheets to the roof frame. I’d miscalculated the number of nails needed so it was all but finished by the time we left on Thursday, with the last few fixings put in on Friday morning.  To strengthen the frame of the shelter we have added some extra vertical supports, and will add more when we are next there. 

The roof that covers the small shed had bowed significantly with pools of water collecting where it slumped. So before securing the new sheeting we added some extra joists to support the roof, but we will need to make sure we brush fallen leaves off the top at regular intervals. 

We also made a good start with cutting the hedges. And we picked the first ripe Beauty of Bath apples. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive, BD4

We made a great start today with some of the infrastructure improvements that we are undertaking over the next few months. We removed the perished roofing of the large shelter and aim to replace it next week, working on Thursday and Friday. 

The main sections of compost bins will be moved to make way for the shed to be built, and a great start was made in clearing these and establishing areas for the bins to be relocated. 

The scythes were useful for cutting the taller vegetation including areas of nettles, ground elder and hogweed. Our mower has been stolen so we it was less easy to shorten the edges of the main path and the paths through the long grass. 

We were pleased to see quite a few small frogs plus a number of moths, butterflies and a patrolling Brown Hawker dragonfly. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

A fine sunny day. We continued to dig out the compost bin and weed around the trees. The veg beds and some of the trees were successfully weeded by the Shaping Spaces group, who also mowed pathways and path edges. 

We continued this work on Saturday 17th with te Friends of BPCO gropu session. We also had a good go at the ground elder and bind weed, spread compost around the trees, thinned out the apples on some of the trees. 

Blossom day at Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

The blossom started very early this year – quite a few trees were in bloom when we were working on our Saturday session on April 15th, however we were pleased to see that there was still a lot of blossom out and the orchard was looking good. 

It’s the first time we have had blossom on Blossom Day since 2015. It’s a shame we didn’t manage to attract more visitors today, but for the regular volunteer group it was a successful day’s work. And with added sustenance of cakes and apple goodies. 

The vegetation has grown a lot in the last three weeks so the key tasks were mowing (especially the ground elder), cutting under the trees and mulching to suppress the weeds. We have plenty of straw to mulch with (they were the seats at Apple Day last year) but as we started the job we realised there was a bumble bees’ nest in the pile. Although we had already disturbed them, we re-covered the remaining bales and hope they stay put. 

During this summer we will be relocating and building new compost bins. We started the process of digging out the neglected brick compost area. It has a lot of good compost that we will feed the trees with once we have removed the weed roots. 

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive, BD4

27 Jan 2017A reluctant start today, the coldest Friday morning we have had for a while, even feeling colder than in the snow at Lower Fields. The minibus took quite a bit of coaxing before we could set off. 

The trees were covered in frost when we arrived, not ideal for pruning, so we started the morning on more active jobs; turning the compost heaps, digging out misplaced raspberry canes from next to the Egremont Russet and continuing with laying the hedge near the seating area. 

The hedgelaying team (probably the smallest number you can class as a team) did an excellent job and completed the entire stretch.  We will need to take some remedial action on the pallet fence behind which has nails sticking though, but apart from that the work has made a massive improvement - creating habitat whilst keeping the hedge below the 5ft limit. Well done. 

We couldn’t really leave without doing any pruning – we had a new tool to try out. We have bought a lopper attachment for the pole, so we can reach into the branches and to higher branches. The rope pulley system reduces the effort needed and the ability to change the angle of the cutting head was very satisfying!

In addition we took compost to the orchard and some twigs and timber as kindling for our wassail for on Sunday. And people took some soft apples away for garden blackbirds; ideal to attract them for RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. 

 Have a look at the orchard gallery here 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive, BD4

The two main tasks today were hedgelaying of the perimeter hedge near the shelter and veg beds. We made a good start clearing the branches from the front of the hedge, making the stakes and laying some of the pleachers. Once finished the hedge will create a good wildlife habitat whilst remaining within the height restrictions for the allotment. 

The other team made a start on pruning the apple trees. We also make a start by removing dead, diseased and damaged branches, but we also made an effort to remove lower branches from the trees, the ones that once loaded with fruit sit on the floor, and also prevent easy picking from other branches. Several trees are too congested throughout, and a selection of branches were cut out to allow easier picking and more air and light circulation. 

We were pleased to welcome some of the YMCA NCS group who helped with the pruning and making stakes, and heating the Kelly kettle.  

We will continue with these tasks on 27th January 2017.

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive, BD4

We got wet today, but we preserved to make sure the Orchard was ready for Apple Day on Sunday. We continued with the autumn task of cutting the long grass and weeding under the trees. We did a little bit of harvesting, but left some to do with visitors on Sunday. The path had a bit more weeding and bark spread on it. Paulina did a great job of marking the two young trees with a decorative willow structure.

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

We arrived at the orchard today having been told our tenancy had been ended. It wasn't just the belief that this was the result of a clerical error (we had returned letters on time to accept a notice of bad cultivation and signed to say our intention was to improve), but because we know the orchard is a highly productive allotment, growing loads of organic apples, many varieties that you cannot buy in the shops. Whilst we know that we hadn't done enough work this summer, and we need to address that next year if we wish to keep the orchard going, we will continue to cultivate following guidelines from Garden Organic, the national research organisation that provides advice to professional and amateur gardeners. 

Today we were busy with the scythes and sickles to start the late summer grass cut. A new bench was installed, using reclaimed timber, and others were fixed with timberlocks. The collection of the gravel for the path was thwarted by padlock technicalities, however this was resolved on Tuesday 27th when Forest of Bradford volunteers dropped it off and helped with further tasks. 

Although the ripening of apples is relatively late (blossom was late this year) we are now in full flow. Make sure you are contacting us for all your apple shopping.