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 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. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

In contrast to yesterday, it was wet today, but we completed several key tasks. The summer pruning of the cordons and espaliers was just about completed to restrict their growth. They are looking tidier. The hedges were cut. We used cardboard and straw to mulch round more trees, having been pleased with the results from the work done in June. 

There is still plenty of long grass – we watch a Large Skipper butterfly laying eggs, so we will leave the meadow until later in the summer. The alliums we planted earlier in the year were looking good and providing nectar for the insects. 

Some pictures in the gallery 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

The weather conditions have been great for grasses – we were met, not unexpectedly, be a jungle to clear. By the end of the day we had made quite a difference. The pathways had been cleared as well as vegetation under most of the trees. In addition we used straw to mulch some of the trees and will monitor how effective this is. 

We have been trying to increase the nectar sources in the orchard for pollinators for the periods when the trees aren’t in blossom (though Court Pendu Plat was still flowering) and the Orange Hawkweed and Vipers Bugloss were looking great. We intentionally leave some of the grass long as it offers habitat for peat control species, as well as butterflies such as Ringlet. 

 

Blossom Day at Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

What a surprise! No blossom.. We’ve said it before but this year really was the least blossomy Blossom Day. Although today was warm and sunny on the whole, it was snowing last week so it’s not surprising the blossom is delayed; let’s hope the weather suits the pollinating bees when the flowers open.

A range of activities took place, including some artistic people making tissue blossom and others eating cake. The practical tasks included the predictable weeding, as well las feeding the trees and replacing the gate post. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Today we completed the winter pruning of the apple trees. We also turned the compost heaps and gave the trees a feed of compost, and a handful or so of seaweed and fine charcoal (a by-product of our barbeque charcoal making that we understand helps to make minerals more accessible to the tree). The shed had a spring clean and was made secure. 

Two years ago Sue and I went to a grafting workshop and ‘created’ two new trees – Aklam Russet and Yorkshire Greening. Today we planted them. They are still fairly small, but make welcome additions to our selection of trees as they will both store well. 

Bradford Apple Group have been successful in receiving a grant form Sovereign Healthcare, who wanted the money to go towards the management of the orchard. 

 
 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

In the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

We made a start on the winter pruning today. I wish I had acted on my plan to put tape on branches that, earlier in the year, I had identified for removal. However, we returned to basic principals of removing dead, diseased and dying branches, and those crossing and rubbing. Quite a few trees need to be opened up to allow air circulation and easier harvest – we tried to be thorough. 

We planted some allium blubs, to add to those planted by Rob’s group, along with crocuses, in an attempt to create nectar supplies for the bees before and after the apples are in blossom. 

Willow and dogwood was coppiced, preventing anything getting too big and providing material for a wreath making workshop. 

APPLE DAY - Our annual public event

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Finger Puppets: Hannah's bee is taking her ladybird for a walk. Finger Puppets: Hannah's bee is taking her ladybird for a walkConsidering the weather we have had over the past few weeks today was a little disappointing. Nothing awful, just autumnal, but luckily it didn’t deter over 400 people coming for our annual celebration of all things apple (and English fruit in general). 

Again we were able to offer a full range of activities with the help of an invaluable team of volunteers, activity leaders from BCEP and stalls held by other groups.

With the help of the enthusiastic participants we made fresh juice from windfalls and other apples that had been stored in waiting (mainly Katy which continues to be such a prolific tree). 113 kg of orchard apples were sold; varieties including Ribston Pippin (always a favourite), Sunset, Arthur Turner, Katy, Grandpa Buxton, Kidd’s Orange Red, Bramley’s seedling, Belle de Boskoop, Egremont Russet and James Grieve. It was great to get help from several families during the afternoon in picking more apples to top up the supplies. 

Belle de Boskoop is a dual purpose apple. It makes a lovely baked apple, and it would normally only be considered ready for eating later in the year once more sugar has developed  but it still came out top in the tasting sessions that BCEP ran. 

Beardsworths Nursery again provided trees for sale and several people left Apple Day ready to grow their own fruit. Martin was busy all day with horticultural advice, and Anne had a stream of people requesting identification of their apples. 

The young people, and the not so young, were guided in scavenger hunts, drawing skills and in making finger puppets and name the apple game.

Cakes were eaten, orchard jams and chutneys were bought, as were lollies and fruit leathers supplied by Plenty and honey by Mark. Entertainment was provided by an impromptu assemblage of musicians. It was another successful Apple Day. Thanks everyone.

See some more pictures here

 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

 

The focus of today was to make sure the orchard was safe and ready to host Apple Day. A few of the wooden benches are in need of repair, but for the time being we have decided to remove those that are too wobbly to be safe.
 
Paths were cleared, the dogwood weeded and some of the beds weeded in preparation for planting crocuses as an early nectar source for our pollinators.
 
As well as the work at the orchard, there was also the job of gathering and loading all the stuff needed for Apple Day – tables, juicing kit, signs, activities, marquees etc etc. By the end of the day all was set, just the cakes to make. 
 

Bowling Park Community Orchard - BEES 30th Anniversary Event

There was lots to do today, but we did manage to eat birthday cake at lunchtime. Thank you for the contributions. There were no speeches, so I’ll take this opportunity say thank you to everyone who has been involved in BEES over the past 30 years. BEES is all about the people; without volunteers and participants we would not be managing green spaces for wildlife and creating educational spaces. Thank you for your contribution.

In terms of the orchard, today were grass and hedge cutting, clearing around the trees, replacing bark with stone on another section of path and picking a few apples.