Volunteering at the orchard
Would you like to join the volunteer group to help manage the orchard? We are keen to welcome new volunteers to help with tasks through the year. Having dominated our time through September and October, the harvest is complete now, so we are now moving onto juicing and preserving.
Through the winter we need to prune the trees and manage the hedges and edges. By late winter we move onto feeding the trees, ready to welcome the spring blossom. Through the summer we aim to control some of the unruly vegetation (while making sure we are managing the grassland to support the predators than control the pests). Summer pruning is a job for August, and then we are back to harvesting....
This makes it sound easy, but we need more volunteers if we are to maintain the orchard satisfactorily.
Some of the management is done on BEES conservation volunteer days, but a lot is done by the Friends of Bowling Community Orchard. We usually meet on the third Saturday of the month, 10.00 - 1pm, though this does vary. If you are coming along as a first timer please contact BEES in advance to make an arrangement.
1. Friday 24th November; BEES Task day . at the orchard from 10.30-3.30
2. Saturday 25th November; Friends of Session at the orchard. Meet at the gates on Bowling Park Drive at 10.30am.
3. Tuesday 28th November. Juicing at Culture Fusion. Come along from 9.30 until mid afternoon (until we have gone through the shed we don't know how much we will have to juice, so please come along early so we can get as much done as possible). We aim to work outside so dress warmly. Washing up gloves are useful for staying warm when washing the apples.
4. Wednesday 29th November. Pasteurising at Culture Fusion. Get in touch for details.
5. TBC Saturday 16th December; Friends of Session at the orchard. Meet at the gates on Bowling Park Drive at 10.30am. Getting started with the winter pruning.
Apple Day 2023 was held on Sunday 15th October 12-4pm
We will have a reasonable harvest this year, though at this stage it is hard to know how this will progress. We have noticed the early croppers such as Discovery are not lasting as well as usual. We may have had to juice much of the fruit before Apple day, meaning there may be less to juice on the day.
Apple Day will be full of the normal range of activities; juicing, cakes, chutneys, activities, advice about your fruit trees, harvesting and a time to meet with friends and hang out in the autumn sunshine. And apples to buy.
Keep an eye on the Apple Day page for updates, and for requests for donations of baking etc, and about volunteer opportunities. We would really welcome new volunteers to help us make the event run smoothly, so please do get in touch if you are able to help. [email protected]
We hope to see you at the orchard soon.
Our Jams and Chutneys are available all year round.
Look at this link to our jams, chutneys and juice to see what preserves we have in store. Place an order at [email protected] and we will discuss collection/delivery
Call for Volunteers (and other help...)
Can you make a cake for Apple Day?
The cake stall is always a popular part of Apple Day, but we rely on volunteer contributions to get the range and the number of cakes needed to satisfy our eager crowd. And this year we are celebrating our 21st birthday, so cakes seem all the more important. If you would like to bake for us please email and we will send a brief outline. Basically we are looking for cakes, biscuits etc using apples, pears, plums or English soft fruit...
We look forward to hearing your ideas.
Chutney - have you got any spare jars?
In order to make the most of the apple harvest, be it using windfalls or just preserving fruit that won't store, we make a lot of chutney. However, we are short of jars (we prefer to recycle rather than buy new) and would welcome any donations. Ideally we would prefer that they arrive to us without the labels - these need to be removed before we sterilise them and sometimes they are just too hard to get off.
And while we are talking about chutney, if you want to get involved with making some please talk to us. Or if you have a favourite recipe you'd like to recommend to us please get in touch. We'd welcome new inspiration.
Do you know of spare apples for juicing?
The fresh apple juice we produce at Apple Day is another firm favourite. To make enough this year we will need to find contributions from outside the orchard. Do you have a glut of apples at home? Have you seen a tree in your neighbourhood that doesn't get picked? Get in touch with any thoughts and we will discuss collection.
Volunteering on the Day
We need volunteers on the day to help with setting up, helping to run activities and stalls and with packing away at the end. You can volunteer for a part of the day if you like.
If you wish to get involved with volunteer days at the orchard through the summer, keep an eye on the task programme here, or contact the office (still limited time to the office to keep staff safe, so best to email [email protected] at the moment).
We do not have card facilities at the orchard.
We know that everyone has become used to cashless transactions over the last year or so...but ....
please bring CASH for your cakes, apples, chutney, juice etc. (and of course your donations too!!)
We are twenty years old! On Sunday 26th March 2023 we celebrated 20 years of the orchard.
It was a chilly morning but we gathered with our photo albums and cake to take a moment to appreciate what we have achieved.
BEES lead a pruning workshop on Sunday 8th January at the orchard.
This training was targeted at people who live in the Bowling area, as part of the Festival of Trees.
Apple and pear trees should be pruned in winter to maintain a healthy shape and size and to ensure they will fruit plentifully for future decades. We worked with the group to talk through the theory and have a little bit of practice of winter fruit tree pruning.
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 Codlin 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.
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?
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. go.
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 inactive at present] This is a closed group used mainly just to communicate about details of sessions, with very occasional extra bits of info. Or email [email protected] 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.
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.
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.
The harvesting record shows the weight of each variety of apple harvested each year.
Community Orchard Development
BEES has been involved in developing Community Orchards at Bowling Park Allotments, Redcliffe (Keighley) and in many school grounds.
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.
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.
On Sundays the 621 (First) bus leaves the Interchange from Stand K at 17 minutes and 47 minutes past the hour. The destination is Bierley.
It goes up Wakefield Road to the big junction by St John's Church, then turns right along New Hey Road, Brassey Road then Paley Road. Get off at the stop at the end of Paley Road, then cross the bottom of Bowling Hall Road/top of Hall Lane and walk down Bowling Park Drive until at the allotments gate.
If that stop is missed get off at the next stop a little way up Bowling Hall Road and walk back down. If you pass Bolling Hall you've gone too far!
The 621 returning to the Interchange leaves the stop at the end of Paley Road at 14 and 44 minutes past the hour.
That's best advice for Sunday, though there is the 671 (First) bus to West Bowling, leaving the Interchange from Stand B at 25 minutes past the hour. Get off at the end of Parkside Road and walk down Avenue Road then bear right onto Bowling Park Drive.