Environmental Group for Groundwell (Brook)
Penhill Community Plan
@Penhill Park Plan
Seven Fields Nature Reserve
Penhill Forum Annual Report 2009/2010
Penhill Forum Annual Report 2012-2013
Penhill Orchard Annual Report 2013
Penhill Orchard Annual Report,2013Charity No: 1108717 Committee: Chair, Bob Elwood, Secretary Marilyn Beale, Treasurer, Gordon Foster-Blyth, Marlene Parkman, Richard Beale, Andrew Field. The
objects of the Group are:
relieve poverty by the provision of free fresh fruit for the people of Penhill
who are in need through the Penhill Orchard.
advance the education and training of any person in horticulture at the Penhill
advance the education and training of any person in healthy eating at the
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.
B b b b b b b b
b b b b b b b
I would like to report another successful year at Penhill
Orchard – our 10th year! Despite a lack
of volunteer numbers, we seem to keep on top of the routine maintenance. We also managed to meet nearly every week
this year despite the disaster of the sewage leak and some appalling weather.
It also needs to be remembered that some of that work is paperwork takes place
outside of the Orchard.
It is especially good and gratifying to see the interest
from residents and that the fruit has been taken and well used.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our
volunteers, their families and supporters.
Penhill Orchard Group Report
Alternative Energy. We have managed for another year without
electricity and running water.
Bird Berry Border. We gave up the fight to keep Jungle Corner
under control. The three Gunnera did not
survived the cold, wet winter, the Phormium also died. Work has progressed to getting the blackberry
cleared and we hope to bring that into the mowing regime, until an alternative
use can be found for the ground. We have
replaced the plants along the school fence, mostly Cotoneaster and Pyrocathus,
this time grown from cuttings.
Our fig, the remaining grape vine and one of the rambling
roses, cut right down to the ground by the phantom strimmer, have recovered
well, albeit surrounded by blackberry.
The clearance of the bramble by the main gate, achieved by our
volunteers in 2010 has completely grown again, but in retrospect, it does
better protect our fencing from the vehicles turning just outside the
Orchard. The donated hollies and hazel
have put on excellent growth this year and are now well established.
Bug Boxes: Each year when the borders die back, we
can see that the bug boxes are there, in various states of repair. Last winter
they were repaired when possible. The units are home to several creatures.
This was completed online and a receipt was received by email.
Report: Our Auditor this year, Andy
Harrison has checked the finances and confirmed them to be in order.
Flowers and Bulbs:
The snowdrops and dwarf daffodils did not do so well this year. The Cyclamen and the Christmas Roses, in the
raised beds, had a long blooming season.
Fruit Bushes: The
Blackcurrants cropped well again and were pruned early. The Gooseberries were
moved into two raised beds but suffered from being dug up several times – by
foxes we think. The original allotment bush is doing well. The Raspberries are
not producing as well as the other fruit.
The blackberry is still being kept at three rows, but is so strong that
it grows along the fence and plenty of fruit both inside and out of Orchard.
Much work goes into curbing its enthusiasm!
Gates: The main
gate and ornamental Secretary’s Orchard gate have required no maintenance.
Library: The books are regularly in use, especially
the wildlife books. There is always some
discussion about plants and wildlife at work parties.
are regularly added to our lively Facebook page where they can be seen by
anyone, visitors can add more if they wish.
Facebook Page: The page has 105 members without making an
effort it is well used. A diary is kept week by week, we can easily spread
information and others can add their comments. i.e. “when I was down there
last weekend I was taken aback at how beautiful it looked. Gorgeous carpet of
daisies and blossom everywhere! X” There has also been an exchange of fruit recipes this year, i.e. 20
minute microwave jam and ‘Here's one I snickered earlier’, a real Halloween
Quality of Life
Award: It looks like we are the permanent holders of the Swindon Quality of
Life Award. This item is kept on this report to remember that we hold the
Trophy, which really is a piece of artwork.
(Bob holds that and the Bristol Trophy)
Raised Beds: The top raised bed Strawberries did not do so
well this year, mainly because of the cold wet spring, they also need replacing
and we feel that the best way forward will be to try to grow our own
offshoots. The beds also hold Christmas
Roses, and various cuttings. The third
bed has been used for the Gooseberries, we think the soil needs to be ‘heavier’
and will be looking to improve that during in the coming winter. All beds received some maintenance this
year. We added a Lavender found in the
Grass was still
growing in November 2013.
Rhubarb: The crowns are doing well in the long
Rubbish and litter:
Litter both inside the Orchard and just outside is still a problem. One of our volunteers continues to keep the
Orchard free of litter and the spinneys that surround it. The biggest problem is youth using the Orchard
for drinking/smoking sessions, but we find this is seasonal and few.
Sewer Break: A big event this year, was the bursting of a
sewer just uphill and outside of the Orchard, this went on for several weeks,
bursting, repaired and bursting again.
This has meant a spurt in growth in that part of the Orchard, and held
up our maintenance in that area and grass cutting. The lime dust road outside was badly damaged
and still is.
School Projects: *None that we know of.
Scout Projects: *None that
we know of this year.
*As the orchard is left open to
the community, who are free to use it at any time, including schools and
organisations, unless they contact us, we do not know which of them uses
it. Although we do hear they use it from
time to time.
Signs: Still on
list of things to do, but safely stored in the units.
Students etc. We often get asked to provide information for
students and from other groups hoping to set up similar projects. This year,
within minutes we put a gentleman from Dorset in touch with his local experts
and organisation when he needed an Apple variety identifying.
Tools: All tools being used on fine days and well
maintained on wet days! The laminated tool safety and usage notices hung the
tool unit are helpful. We were donated a small chainsaw.
Fence: There have been no trees from Nature Reserve falling into Orchard this year.
If we have cause to lock the gates, inevitably damage is
then done to the Orchard by youngsters climbing over the fence to get in. Only
repairing and patching up of fences has taken place this year.
Trees: We have replaced three trees, one apple
(Arlington Pippin) and two pears (Bon Chretien). The apples are all doing well,
except when damaged and this year this has mostly been smaller branches. These
are properly pruned as soon as we discover the damage. We need to replace one more tree. It is good to see that the very badly damaged
Reverend Wilkes apple tree 2/3 years ago, that had to be cut almost to the
ground, is now doing well. We had a donation of a well grown Golden Delicious
apple tree and as it was unlikely to survive the move, we planted it in the
border by the school but this appears to have rooted and fruited this year
After ten years, we can now say that the pears do not do nearly
so well as the apples and the plums do well, fruit, then seem to develop mildew
– those that do well in growing, do not fruit to heavily. The Mulberry is struggling but still alive. One variety of Cherry fruits well, the other
grows well! This year’s apple crop was
An offshoot of pruning work is that we are able to allow
people to take them for small animal nibbles.
The Penhill Rogue tree up on the hill fruited well and is still full as
we write We were able to deliver a limited amount to people we knew would
benefit from the fruit and have helped us in the past and we provided the fruit
for the PCA Apple Day.
Canteen unit roof was leaking badly, was repaired and then children were up on
top and it started again, the roof was repaired again and the inside ceiling
replaced and repainted and so far, (considering the amount of rain we’ve had)
We have had little opportunity to use the furniture this year; it is stored in
We are delighted to see and hear of so many more of the community using
the Orchard. The word has gone around that people really can go and pick free
fruit and we are seeing the results via our Facebook page and more people than
ever have dropped in on work party days. We had visitors from the BBC TV West
Wildlife unit, who were filming in Seven Fields Nature Reserve for their Summer
of Wildlife series of programmes. The
local Policeman told us that he called on a person who immediately thought it
was because her children were stealing apples, although they said they were
taking them ‘from the fields’. He was happy to tell them that the children were
able to take them from the Orchard without fear of arrest. Our local Foodbank
also gathered fruit this year. We met representatives from The Woodland
Trust to go through what we needed when we first started for them to advise new
groups starting out. Subsequently we
have news of three other communities or
‘pocket’ Orchards springing up in Newbury, Salisbury, Marlborough and
Aldbourne. We had visitors from Park
South for the same purpose.
we have not recruited new volunteers this year, we seem to manage the essential management with just a few. Now
the Orchard is established there is little to do through the hotter months. We
have however, have offers of help with pruning when the time comes.
we were unable to take outings this year, we had an hand written invitation to
go to Tenbury on Wells, Applefest again.
Wildlife: We were
concerned to see that one of our friendly cat visitors was shot with a crossbow
earlier this year and worried also about our wildlife. A note was made on 27th
July that it must be wildlife day, with butterflies, bees, birds, woodpeckers
seen that day, and notes of foxes, Fieldfares, Red Kites, sparrowhawks etc. and
a shield bug last December. We noted
that we didn’t have many wasps when others were suffering badly from them.
Occasionally we hear the magpies, pigeons or squirrels, tap dancing on the roof
of the unit.
Willow: Haydonleigh School and Surestart Penhill used our Willow to construct shelters, it was also used for craft session
Work Parties: We have managed to get to the Orchard
most Saturdays, although we had weeks snow/ice/rain/sewage. We continue to keep
a diary of who comes, what work is done, the week preceding general weather,
the weather on the morning, wildlife sightings, and any other info. We have had
no help from other or corporate groups this year.
Compost Bin: We have added a compost enclosure this year,
it is made from the recycled tree stakes we no longer need on the trees and our
organised no events this year, the weather being no better than last year, bad
for events but has been good for the trees. However the Penhill Community
Association wanted to hold an Apple Day and we provided apple samples, contacts
for the apple press, and helped out on the day. They visited the Orchard first,
collected fruit and held an event at Chippenham Close Community Centre. We have
agreed that it would be good to have our own Penhill apple press.
Lease: We have a ‘Tenancy at Will’ as an interim
measure to enable us to continue to use the land.
affiliation: We continue to be affiliated to the British Trust for
Conservation Volunteers and buy our insurance via them.
Media: Penhill News and our Facebook Page.
Display: there have been no opportunities to display
Award: No awards this year.
Units: We have cleared the leak and repainted the roof this
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