Apple day sows seeds of success for orchard

Visitors to apple day learning more about the fruit before the tree planting (centre)
Visitors to apple day learning more about the fruit before the tree planting (centre)

APPLE day at Steyning Community Orchard has helped sow the seeds of success for the project.

Last Saturday’s event on Memorial Playing Field was the first of its kind and organisers said the turnout exceeded all expectations.

It culminated in the planting of a new tree, to mark the start of the rejuvenation of the orchard.

More than 200 people turned up during the course of the afternoon, taking along their own apples for identification, making use of the apple presses and taking part in games while listening to live music.

Bob Platt, one of the orchard team, said: “We juiced all the apples people brought and sold all the apple cakes and tarts and jars of jam and chutney that our volunteers made, which means we have raised a useful amount of money to fund our future projects.

“The children enjoyed the games and got wet apple bobbing and they helped plant our first tree.

“We were able to give people information about our future plans and the research we have done so far on the orchards that have existed in Steyning in the past.”

He said the event, celebrating national apple day, was a ‘great boost’ for the project.

Organiser Roger Brown dug the hole for the new tree and drove in the stake. He was then assisted by local children to plant the tree, while Sue Saunders gave a commentary explaining the finer points of fruit tree planting technique.

The new tree is an old Sussex variety, called golden pippin, which may have been grown in Steyning as long ago as the 1660s.

Plans for the orchard were on display, including historical research on the orchards that have existed around the town going back to the 18th century.

There was also a display of apple varieties grown locally, including a selection from the trees in the Memorial Playing Field.

Games for children included apple bobbing and an apple-based treasure hunt. Volunteers made refreshments with an apple theme and live music was provided by Pete Varkala and Fiddley Scrumpy.

Mr Platt said: “The funds raised will enable plans for the community orchard to progress. Future activities include a wassail on January 1 on the Memorial Playing Field.”