Various groups, linked to BEES in one way or another turned out at West Bowling Community Orchards for Blossom Day (3rd May 2013) around the 10th Anniversary of the Community Orchard.
The groups included volunteers with the regular Friday afternoon conservation volunteers activities with BEES.
Ian and Patrick were busy digging out perennial weeds from around a herb wheel that was an original feature of the Community Orchard.
Ian who’s been volunteering for 2 years with BEES said ‘I love it! I think it’s absolutely brilliant and you feel like you’re doing something.’
Patrick said ‘We’ve done work in schools with kids showing them how to plant trees passing it on – kids have got polytunnels, orchards and food growing now – we never had that! And it’s about discovering Bradford too.’
Ian: ‘When you get involved with Bradford and volunteering you discover how much is going on, for example I volunteer with different groups and I get up to Denso Marston, Shipley Glen Railway and Horton Community Farm.’
Patrick: ‘ Yeah, it’s like the BEES nature reserve down behind the uni…it’s tiny, but nice to know it’s there.’
(Nick even said it is home to the only local example of a hawthorn/medlar hybrid (very unusual!)
Patrick: It’s also important for kids to know where apples come from, these beautiful trees, not from Morrison’s!
I also met Negussie Taye from Ethiopia and French-speaking Zachary preparing the grass around an apple tree ready for planting some native cowslips under it.
Marilyn and Robert Barber and Margaret Rees were also having a gentle amble round the orchards, looking at the few blossoms that were out and chatting. I entered into conversation with them about the BEES wildlife field trips which happen regularly on a Tuesday. Amanda from BEES told me they travel all over Yorkshire and up to the dales on trips looking at wildlife, in particular flowers and birds (as there are a few experts as part of the groups).
They do botanical recording and have their own blog you can link to from the BEES website http://www.bees-ymca.org.uk/blog/301 They are generally a group with a slightly older age range who are very knowledgeable about flowers and birds.
There was Pauline and her friend from the Hirstwood regeneration group who has been busy creating wildlife and biodiverse areas near her in Shipley.
With the help of BEES they have put in a Community Orchard, planted trees to attract birds with food in the winter, a hawthorn hedge on the edge of an industrial estate to attract more wildlife and make the area more attractive, as well as 2,000 daffodils across the area, a huge children’s play area including a youth hut, so the bus stop can now be used by others!
Finally, there was a family paying their respects to a family member who had passed on, by planting native cowslips and other perennial wildflowers under an apple tree.
Although there wasn’t a huge amount of blossom, what was there was very cheerfully appreciated after such a long winter and slow start to spring/summer.
The BEES Community Orchard is a much loved place as are BEES, an environmental organisation that helps to transform many spaces in Bradford. So, after a delicious apple-y soup, ginger apple cake and a cup of tea I went on my way and I heard that some school children were on their way to learn and enjoy in the afternoon.
An interview with Julia from BEES about the creation of the Community Orchard and its’ 10 years to date will follow soon. Julia has so much to say, so I will dedicate a separate post to the creation of the orchard (coming soon).