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Cropsharers gathered for the toast!

In 2001 Dragon Orchard Cropsharers was launched in a post foot and mouth diseased Herefordshire countryside. Last weekend some ten years later, over 120 people gathered in the orchard to celebrate a decade of Cropsharing and to enjoy the links between people, place and produce. Orchard activities included bee-keeping, budding and music-making with poetry walks and cider production also included.

Pouring Carpenters CroftOnce Upon A Tree’s fabulous new Tumpy Ground Draught Cider provided excellent lubrication and Carpenters Croft celebratory sparkling cider was the perfect drink for the toast to the next ten years.

David PealingYear in the orchard celebrations continued in May at Dragon Orchard with a drop-in workshop on ‘a beginners guide to beekeeping’. David Pealing (Mr P) from Putley has been keeping bees for about seven years now, and is supplying Once Upon a Tree shop with his honey. Annie and Norman Stanier have wanted beehives in their orchard so this was a great opportunity to team up with Mr P.

MeEric helps build the hiver P had an old hive that required refurbishment. He set up outside to work on it with his willing helper Eric (10). They set too making new frames with foundation wax, wood, hammer and nails and managed quite a production line. Interested parties were welcomed to join in the action. Questions and Answers carried on a pace and eventually an inquisitive crowd gathered to learn more about the life and times of the honey bee, its hive and its role in the orchard.

Due to the very warm Easter we had experienced, the honey bees had already been very productive in some of Mr P’s hives in the village. For added interested the audience were herded into the garage and the electric doors lowered in preparation for a honey extraction display (The door was closed to reduce any bees flying past, being attracted to the honey.) Four frames heavy with comb and honey were lowered into an extraction barrel. The lid replaced and then a lot of manual effort About to extract the honey!was required to central frugally extract the honey. Efforts were rewarded with the sampling of very sweet, clear, magnificent honey.

DHive siting instructionsuring this day a competition was run to find the most appropriate site for the new hive. Visitors were offered the chance to set out into the orchard armed with a numbered stake, mallet and the few tips given by Mr P on the best place for a hive and find their ideal position. They were encouraged by the thought that the winning stake placed closest to the final resting place of the hive would win the first jar of honey from Dragon Orchards hive.

Our bee hiveThe day was informative but fun. Many of us left with more knowledge of the bee and beekeeping than we came with. Many thanks to Mr P for all his hard work.

Kay Harris

UPDATE: May 5th 2011 - The Hive has been sited in the orchard between the Big Hug and Tin Shed along the hedgerow. The winning stake was No.4 belonging to Tim Kemp. Congratulations! He will be receiving the first jar of honey extracted but first we need some bees!

Swarm of bees introduced to the hiveUPDATE: May 17th 2011 - Breaking news: We have a swarm of bees living in Dragon Orchard’s hive. They needed a little help in finding it but they have settled in and are being productive – you could say it is a hive of activity! Hopefully honey will be soon!

In anticipation of our upcoming Herefordshire Year in the Orchard Event - "Photography in the Orchard", I've been out taking some photos in the fantastic weather we've had the past couple of days. Last night, we had a beautiful crescent moon, low in the west, and I tried to be all arty with a torch in front of the pear blossom! This is the best of the photos (click for a bigger photo):

Pear Blossom and Moon

I've also tried a couple of macro shots, first, blossom with a money spider:

Pear Blossom with Money Spider

And a close up of a quince bud:

Quince Bud

Feel free to comment!!!!

Apple pealing and tasting!The rain didn't dampen spirits at our Autumn Children's Orchard Day on Thursday 27th October 2011.  Flags were flying, the men were crushing the apples and children turned up prepared to explore all that Dragon Orchard had to offer!!

A simple apple corer, peeler and slicer provided endless fun for the children and a lot of apples were eaten!  Alice, apple printing with the childrenPerhaps we have solved the problem of getting children to eat more fruit!

Alice Arnold our 'resident' local artist offered children opportunities to make brilliant painted cards with the use of potato and apple printing.  The children's imagination and creative skills were abundant.

Pumpkin lantern carving was a great hit with some very gruesome faces, but it was very messy and great fun.

And when we thought we couldn't get much wetter, the attraction to go apple bobbing was to strong a pull!  However all adults were grateful for a wonderful cup of coffee and delicious home-made cakes.

Thank you to all who came and enjoyed the day.  Whilst we are planning for our next year event calendar I think we may avoid Thursdays in the hope we will have a dry day!

Apple Bobbing Apple printingPumpkin carving

The end of July saw the launch, not only of our new shop here in the orchard, but also the Putley Wildlife Action and Advisory Group.Putley Wildlife Action and Advisory Group

Dormouse (from Herefordshire Nature Trust)Our parish of Putley formulated a "Parish Plan" several years ago, which among many other things, identified the need for a Biodiversity survey. This was undertaken a couple of years ago and identified many ancient hedgerows that would be the perfect habitat for dormice.

In fact several dormice have been spotted in neighbouring hedgerows, and so it seemed the perfect launch event for the group to encourage the proliferation of this endangered species by introducing "dormice tubes" into the wildlife friendly hedgrows of Dragon Orchard.

Nest box with blackberries nearby - dormice will love this!

With any luck, these nest boxes will help numbers increase around our orchard boundary, already home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.

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