Environmental Group for Groundwell (Brook)
Penhill Community Plan
@Penhill Park Plan
Penhill Forum Annual Report 2008/9
Community and Learning in Penhill
Seven Fields Nature Reserve
Penhill Forum Annual Report 2009/2010
Penhill Forum Annual Report 2010/2011
Annual Report 2011
Penhill Orchard Group
Charity No 1108717
Chair Bob Elwood
Secretary Marilyn Beale
Treasurer Gordon Foster-Blyth
The objects of the Group are:
To relieve poverty by the provision of free fresh fruit for the people of Penhill who are in need through the Penhill Orchard.
To advance the education and training of any person in horticulture at the Penhill Orchard.
To advance the education and training of any person in healthy eating at the Penhill Orchard.
To provide or assist in the provision of facilities in the interest of social welfare for recreation or other leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disability, financial hardship or social circumstances with the object of improving their conditions of life.
I would like to report another successful year at Penhill Orchard.
It is good to see the resurgence of interest and protection of Orchards in Wiltshire, the planting of them in school grounds and country parks since our Community Orchard was planted in 2003. Best news was the WSCF grassroots grant of £2000 for fencing, seats, replacement trees and fruit bushes, soil for raised beds and installation and refurbishment of gates, leaflets and banners and the all important annual insurance cover.
We would like to thank the Arval team of 32 corporate volunteer and thank Jules and Cathy for bring it to their attention and for organising the day. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers, their families and supporters
Penhill News for printing our announcements.
Swindon Grounds Maintenance for their continuing support.
Arval Corporate volunteers.
Involve Swindon for brokering the deal.
Our volunteers for their hard work and dedication and of course their families without whose tolerance and support we would not be able to function in the way we do
Penhill Orchard Group Report
Academy at Headlands, Luckily the anticipated ‘way through’ has not transpired. Moves have been made by the Academy to hold Citizenship sessions in the Orchard, unfortunately we have not yet been able to co-ordinate that with them but hope that it will happen.
Alternative Energy. We have not been able to progress the Award from Halcrow and the idea of an Eco loo, although a bid to the Fair share grant was sent to the WSCF we have asked them not to progress it until we have a full compliment of volunteers again. We also found that the cost of the loo had increased considerably. We have managed for another year without electricity and running water. No change to this yet.
Bird Berry Border. The fight goes on to keep Jungle Corner under control. The three Gunnera again survived the winter and are doing well, we decided not to replace the Phormium, they are not hardy enough. Our poor Fig, our remaining grape vine and one of the rambling roses were cut right down to the ground with other shrubs badly scarred by the strimmer line last year but have survived and are doing well. The remaining Roses were planted along the new stretch of fencing by the gate are doing well and fighting off the bramble. All the shrubs planted along the top fence are good, the Buddlias best of all. At present it looks like the first plant, a Clematis Montana Rubens may well have suffered because of the winter, it failed to bloom properly. The plants replaced at the school end last year with our own cuttings:- Cotoneasters, Pyracathus, Buddlia, Hollyhocks and other seeds, do not seem to have taken well.
Bug Boxes: These reappear every winter when the borders die back, some have been refurbished and new hay inside. We lost one completely, smashed.
Bird Boxes: On wet Saturdays, Bob has been making bird boxes, but it was too late to hang them this season.
Financial Report: Our Auditor has checked the finances and confirmed them to be in order.
Copies of the accounts will be available at the AGM.
Flowers and Bulbs: The snowdrops and dwarf daffodils were slow this year probably due to the extended period of cold weather and snow. Those planted closest to the trees did best.
Fruit Bushes: We had a good crop of Blackcurrants and set to do well again this year. The Gooseberries have been are rather smothered but will be moved into our new raised beds as soon as the season is right. Raspberries continue not to do so well, plenty of growth and leaf, not much fruit. The blackberry never fails to grow and produce both inside and outside the Orchard.
Gates: The ornamental Secretary’s gate along the top fence is now open and the fencing is replaced. The other two more ornamental gates will be installed and hung as and when our volunteers find the time and weather permits the posts, fixings and mixcrete have been purchased. The main gates have been totally refurbished and the original bolt hole found!.
Library: The books are regularly in use, especially the wildlife books. There continues to always be some discussion about plants and wildlife at work parties.
Facebook Page: Until we have a web site of our own we have set up a Facebook page for the Penhill Orchard. This way we can spread information, keep a log of what goes on each week, answer any questions etc. it can be accessed by anyone interested in what we are doing. We have 65 members on the page.
Photos: Most of our photo’s are posted on our Facebook page, new photos’ are added frequently and comments to photo’s added and answered regularly. We had a personal request to use one of the photos for Christmas Card.
Raised Beds: The top raised bed Strawberries did well last year and more strawberries have been transplanted into the long bed, those are also doing well, along with Christmas Roses, and various cuttings. We have been unable to maintain and use the third bed, but this will be brought into use again. Two smaller beds were built for us by the Arval Team, re-using the tree stakes that once held up the trees!
Rhubarb: the crowns donated last year are making slow progress.
Rubbish and litter: Litter has been at a minimum inside the Orchard and just outside has been considerably more over the winter. A small amount of larger objects, turned into a large amount of smaller objects because of the delay in picking it up, (we were unable to do this ourselves) it was eventually cleared at the end of March by the Neighbourhood Wardens. Community and Learning in Penhill took the large green bin. There have been fewer incidents in spinney this year.
We continue to produce very little rubbish and our waste (other than green arisings) is taken way by us and disposed off in our own bins or recycling. The usual winter problem of vans using the Orchard to turn and knocking over trees in the process seems to have stopped or at least been greatly reduced, but one still reversed into our new fence and knocked the post.
Signs: Still on list of things to do. A second Orchard sign was installed on the Unit by the Arval Team.
Student: We have and helped with information from Students and from other groups hoping to set up similar projects. Community Orchards seems to have taken off in a big way now and we are glad to have been able to promote the idea via media coverage in the past.
Tools: All tools being used and well maintained. New tool racks have been installed in the unit. We have purchased two cordless Strimmers, which work very well around the units and the raised beds.
Fence: We were amazed to discover that someone had completely removed 3 post lengths of fencing from the Spinney side, and on more than one occasion other fencing had been clipped to enable someone through. It was possible to make a running repair on the clipped fencing. The new fencing was purchased to replace the opening left by the theft.
Trees: The harvest last year 2010 was even more remarkable than 2009 .On the 21st August we noted "apples everywhere". Although it as obvious to us that people are using the Orchard and taking the fruit, we still need to look at better ways of distributing it. We use the Penhill News to let the community know it’s there.
Despite the cold weather most trees received a prune, and the trees lost last year, were replaced with new. These arrived at the worst possible time, following 6 inches of snow. As they were bare rooted we had no alternative to dig down through and plant them anyway. They are all still alive if a little lower than the more mature trees. We think this is because of the prolonged period without rain throughout the spring.
Units: the Units were given their top coat of dark green by the Arval team. This is the first year that we have not had to replace the padlocks but we have now some standbys just in case! The leaking canteen unit, already repaired several times, continues to sometimes leak – not always, not even when it rains hard? We are waiting for warmer weather and have the paint and boards to complete the repair and reline the unit. To make a good repair we anticipate that we will have to straighten out a dent.
Garden Furniture: The garden furniture continues to be used at our work parties, it is easily lifted in and out of the unit where it is kept. People requested that we have permanent outside seats and two have now been erected and were designed, made and installed by us.
Visitors: Brian Penney and Brian Tildesley from the Conservation Group pop in from time to time. We welcomed the Penhill Fair share Community Worker Ingrid to the Orchard. A Bat walk, organised by the Swindon Bat project visited as part of a longer walk around the Seven Fields Nature Reserve. Bats were heard and seen in the Orchard, believed to be Pipistrelles. We had a visit from jogger and people taking photos. During our work parties people walk past on their way through the reserve and ASDA, wave and occasionally stop to see progress or ask about the Orchard.
Volunteers: We manage with a few with regular volunteers. We have been very grateful for the visit of the 32 strong Arval Team who enabled who enabled us to catch up with some of the not so pleasant jobs like border clearance, top coat of paint of the units, making raised beds. They fed back how much they enjoyed their day and how impressed they were with the place – apparently they are still taking about it and the fun they had! On a few occasions younger people have joined us and helped fill the gap in the fence and enjoyed being on the roof of the unit slapping on gunk and strimmed the beds, all under the very watchful eye of those who brought them.
Wildlife: Seeing loads, hearing more, and keeping records. Although not ‘scientific’ we register what we see at work parties and on the way there and back, and sometimes, bits in between. Two photos of special mention are of what looks very much like a Dingy Skipper butterfly, quite rare in this area and the Greater Spotted Woodpecker on our trees. We often see the fox and we know we have nocturnal visitors by the pathways under the fences. Most remarkable is the bird song.
Willow: Although we offered the willow to schools and Seven Fields and Greenmeadow both said they would take it, we found it difficult to fit in with their times. Ingrid is taking the Willow this year, attending a course of willow weaving so that she can show other how to make use of it.
Work Parties: Just like last year, we have managed to maintain work parties most Saturdays, with the exception of the Christmas period when we had the weeks of snow and ice. By November it was already so cold that we had to hug the gas canister to be warm enough to make a cup of tea at break time! We are keeping records of what work is done, weather, wildlife sightings, and any other interesting info. We seem to manage to complete all the priority work with weekly work parties of two hours and the occasional help of a ‘work party team’ from somewhere else. During bad weather we were able to use the time we would have spent in the Orchard on shopping for the things we needed for the seats, fencing, posts etc.
Lease: Our lease expired on 26th February 2010 year and we now have a ‘Tenancy at Will’ as an interim measure to enable us to continue to use the land. We look forward to leases being made available once more!
Insurance and affiliation: We continue to be affiliated to the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and buy our insurance via them. This year with the added benefit that we can now insure the units. Insurance is our biggest ongoing expenditure.
Media: Not many opportunities in the media this year, we keep in touch with the community with regular bulletins in the Penhill News and attending functions. We would like to thank the Editorial team for this useful opportunity.
Display: We purchased two new very lightweight display Banners. One promotes the Orchard Group, what and why we do it. The other promotes the Orchard itself with information about what we grow. So far they have been displayed at the Swindon Strategic Partnership Conference and at a Penhill Community Day. We did not display at the Swindon Big Arts day in the usual sense, but we made 68 pieces of bunting with our name, varieties and pictures of fruit, for their attempt to break the longest bunting record.
Leaflets: We were able to print leaflets, a number to take with the displays and more smaller with more basic information these carry information about what fruit and varieties and were, in the Orchard.
Incinerator: After the theft of our old crate, our treasurer Gordon Foster- Blythe donated a brand new incinerator. Thanks to Gordon!
Award: We thank the Wiltshire and Swindon Community Foundation for our grassroots grant of £2000 received in September 2010, to purchase our Replacement trees and fruit bushes, Insurance, seats, paint nd fixings for the units and gates, new fencing, display banners, soil for the raised beds and printing of leaflets.
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