Steyning volunteers revive second orchard

Volunteers from Steyning Community Orchard planting trees at Primrose Court
Volunteers from Steyning Community Orchard planting trees at Primrose Court

THE team behind Steyning Community Orchard has taken on a new venture in the town.

Volunteers, led by Roger Brown, planted new trees at Primrose Court, in Goring Road, on Friday to restore the orchard there.

The project expands the work the team has been carrying out at the community orchard on Memorial Playing Field.

The volunteers planted eight fruit trees, installed protective fences around them and made a start on caring for the surviving original trees.

Bob Platt, a Steyning Community Orchard steering group member, said: “We met with a group of 15 residents and the on-site development manager at Primrose Court late last year.

“The residents were very enthusiastic about plans to rejuvenate their old orchard and asked Steyning Community Orchard to manage the project for them.

“The People’s Trust for Endangered Species Orchard Project provided a grant to cover the cost of eight new fruit trees for the orchard and the residents chose apples, including two Sussex varieties, pears and plums, to add to the three remaining apples in their orchard.”

Brambles, scrub and ivy around the three surviving trees from the original orchard were removed and it is hoped to give them a new lease of life.

It is thought the orchard was originally planted in the 1940s by Dr Wheeler-Bennet, who owned the house before the well-known local doctor, Dr Dingeman, bought it in 1955.

His son, Norman Dingeman, told the team: “There were some 50 trees all of different varieties that ripened at different times and produced more apples than we could possibly eat, so in the autumn a wheelbarrow full of apples was always left by the waiting room door for patients to help themselves.”

Primrose Court was built on the site of the original house in the late 1980s, with the large garden left mostly untouched.

Mr Brown said: “Unfortunately, over the next 40 years, the orchard became overgrown and has mostly disappeared, with just three of the old apple trees remaining.”

Steyning Community Orchard will continue to focus on the main site in Memorial Playing Field, where four more trees were donated by Steyning residents on Saturday.

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