CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2016-2017
Our volunteers continue to work in the orchard tending the trees, putting in strong stakes, weeding, keeping the paths clear and picking up litter and dog poo. Early in March we took scions from the old Wareham Russet tree in Tower Lane as well as from other Cheshire heritage apple trees growing in Trafford Drive Allotments Community Orchard. Harry Delaney of Reaseheath College kindly grafted the scions onto rootstock whilst Anne Harrison from the college and three of us waxed the grafts and potted the resultant saplings. Brian and Jacquie have been caring for these saplings together with two Wareham Russet saplings donated by David Andrews of Stretton Watermill. These will be planted during the dormant season thus increasing the number of trees in the orchard to around 150. This year some of the scions have been grafted onto dwarf root stock so that once the trees are mature the apples can safely be picked by children. Next year we aim to plant a few Hazel pears and Cheshire Prunes (damsons) as well as a few more Wareham Russets.
Last year I reported that the Weaverham Trust had planted our first pocket orchard of two Wareham Russet apple trees in the Bottom Pitch. We have increased the number of pocket orchards this year as some of our Wareham Russet saplings have been planted in school grounds, private gardens, Mere Brow Farm and the grounds of Weaverham Cricket Club
CWaC councillors Charles Fifield, Paul Williams, Harry Tonge, Susan Kaur and Patricia Parkes kindly gave us £2000 from their discretionary Community funds towards the cost of a glass fronted notice board and two picnic tables all hand crafted from sustainably sourced Cheshire oak. We often observe people reading the notices which we try to change regularly, and the picnic tables have proved to be quite popular. Although we initially experienced some vandalism the damage caused was immediately rectified and the local community have been able to enjoy the facilities. This is the third year that our local CWaC councillors have helped us and we are extremely grateful.
We took our display board to Thorn Wood in January when Saltscape held a hedge laying competition. We made some very useful contacts at this event and we were invited to speak to Hartford Civic Trust who, like the Weaverham Trust, are very keen to support us in any way they can. Indeed both groups have given us donations of £50 this year.
Since our last AGM we have also received a generous donation of £100 from the Grange Junior School and a similar donation from Mere Brow Farm.
As a result of our meeting with Hartford Civic Trust, CWaC Councillor Patricia Parkes sometimes attends our meetings and continues to take an interest in the Memorial Orchard. Indeed she did her best to persuade the Highways department to give us a parking layby near the entrance to Thorn Wood. Unfortunately due to the presence of underground services her request was refused.
We took our display board to Hartford’s Picnic in the Park in the summer hoping to spread awareness of the Memorial Orchard. With that in mind, we continue to contribute to the Weaverham News and to the Hartford News. Steve continues to look after our website and our newest member Fiona has set up a Facebook Page which now has 96 followers.
We were very sorry to say goodbye to Irene Bush when she moved out of the area. Irene made a huge contribution to the orchard whilst she was a member of the action group. We miss her and I’d like to thank her for all that she did as a member of the group. Although she no longer lives here she continues to take an interest in the Memorial Orchard.
We were very pleased when Fiona Casson agreed to take Irene’s place. Fiona has lots of fresh ideas and makes a tremendous contribution to all that we do. She works very hard on our behalf and it is great to have her in the team.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank her and all the other members of the Action Group who work tirelessly at the orchard and behind the scenes in so many different ways: Fiona Casson, Steve Doughton, John Freeman, Mike Hornby (secretary), Peter Sayers, Brian Williams (treasurer), and Jacquie Williams. I would also like to thank our other volunteers who have worked extremely hard at the orchard; planting, weeding, slashing, mowing, litter picking, ragwort pulling and so much more. Our thanks also go to local P.C.s Chris Ree and Matt Hood and to PCSO Alex Haskell for their visits to the orchard. I am particularly grateful to PCSO Nicola Devey who, since her appointment has patrolled Thorn Wood twice daily. We continue to work closely with Neil Oxley of the Woodland Trust and we are very grateful for the interest he has taken in the orchard. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and for coming here this evening.
Tina Johnson, Chairman, 21st November 2017