2 November 2013

Jack Dunning apples in chutney prize shock!

The London Orchard Festival was wonderful, despite the rain.

There was a fabulous display of apples, complete with tasting notes and the chance to buy a bag to take away. Juicing, story-telling and fire-making! kept the young orchardists busy, as did the famous longest peel competition.

The frittata, veggie burgers, cake, buns and cider on sale were all delicious, not to mention the chance to sample many freshly juiced apple varieties.

Best of all, my first ever attempt at chutney-making won second prize in the "Chutney Challenge" - the carrot and apple chutney was made with some of the small cooking apples from the Roots to Fruit orchard on the Jack Dunning Estate.

You can see more pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelondonorchardproject/sets/72157636681182776/

10 October 2013

London Orchard Festival 2013

This coming Sunday is the London Orchard Festival!

Last year's festival was brilliant, with all sorts of fruit-related activities. This year's looks great too!
For more information see: http://thelondonorchardproject.wordpress.com

Orchardist’s Question time will be a panel discussion based on Radio 4’s popular ‘Gardener’s Question time’ and everyone is invited to participate with fruit-related questions! There's a great line-up on the panel, with experts from all areas of orchard knowledge, including:

·         Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser (OPAL & Imperial College) – orchard biodiversity and lichens
·         Steve Oram (PTES) – orchard biodiversity
·         Russel Miller – (Tree Muskateers) – Arboriculturalist and all round tree man
·         Peter May – orchard expert and co-author of ‘Apples and Orchards in Sussex’
·         Andy Howard – heritage fruit tree expert
·         …and our very own Lewis McNeill – organic fruit growing and holistic orchard enthusiast

They are asking people to email questions in advance. Or you can have one read out on your behalf if you can’t make it to the festival.

Please email questions to lewis@thelondonorchardproject.org.

Chutney Championship – you can bring a sample of your chutney (or jam for the jam category) and enter the competition!
I'm going to take along my homemade apple curd - made with apples from my friend Nuria's tree.

Samples will be judged by French chef Jean Jacques, with extra points for ingredients being local, foraged, and organic.

8 November 2012

Roots to Fruit on BBC1's Inside Out

On Monday Inside Out featured a fascinating piece on London's orchards and our orchard made a brief appearance!

You can watch it on the BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01nr50q/Inside_Out_London_05_11_2012/

7 October 2012

Apples galore!

Today was the London Apple Festival at Camley Street Natural Park and what a fun-filled apple-fest it was, with apple bobbing, apple tasting, apple pressing, apple peeling and much else apple-related! 

Just a few of the (over 100) apple varieties available to taste:

A very noisy machine pulps the apples.  The pulp is then pressed to make the most delicious apple juice I have ever tasted.

With just a little help my talented five-year-old won a competition to see who could produce the longest single peeling - using an ingenious machine that peels and cores the apple whilst simultaneously carving the flesh into a yummy apple spiral.  His peeling was 139 inches long - more that 3 times his own height!

Some of the longer peelings on display:

The peeling machine in action:

5 October 2012

Your chance to name a new apple variety

This autumn the London Orchard Project are launching a new variety of apple, specially developed for London.

What's more they're going to be planting 100 of the new trees in orchards in public spaces, parks and schools across London - including one in our orchard on the Jack Dunning Estate!

Working closely Trees for Life the new variety was carefully nurtured from a single seed and has taken ten years to develop.  It looks like this:


Feeling inspired?  Can you think of a name for this new London apple variety?  Tweet your suggestions to @LondonOrchard and then follow them on Twitter, for the announcement of the winning name.

Not on Twitter? You can email your suggestion to orchard@thelondonorchardproject.org – a chance to make your mark on Britain’s apple history!

4 October 2012

Meadow and wildflowers coming soon...

Wild flowers are rapidly disappearing from cities - and that means bees, butterflies and other pollinators are suffering. But just imagine if, instead of grass, wildflowers and meadows were planted in all those redundant green spaces we see everywhere around us.  Step up River of Flowers, an exciting project that's right up our street. 

River of Flowers is a not-for-profit company that supports the creation of wildflower meadows.  They are trying to create a real river of (wild)flowers in our capital.  And guess what?  They want to help us create our own wildflower oasis on the Jack Dunning Estate beneath our orchard trees.

Watch this space for more news...

Picture from here

30 September 2012

Goodbye Hannah, goodbye Anna ... welcome Wendy!

The trees in our orchard rely on the hard work of a small band of carers for their very survival - with a little help from Mother Nature!  For the past seven months dedicated tree-huggers have tended and watered them.  Huge thanks and a round of applause to: Liz, Karl, Alix, Rosa, Luis, Tim, Anna, Hannah, Glyn and Nicky. We can hold off on the watering until Spring now whilst the trees sleep over the winter.
In the last few weeks two tree-huggers have moved away.  

Without Hannah there would be no orchard on our estate - she approached the London Orchard Project back in 2011 and badgered Hackney Homes, managing to get us a grant of £1,000. 

Anna watered "her" pear tree on Halidon Close diligently and was an enthusiastic member of the team.  I hope they go on to find other projects and will spread the word about urban food-growing.

Now we welcome Wendy to our merry band.  She will be tending two new(ish) pear trees on Dean Close.  I've just discovered that she is a qualified agriculturalist - a great addition to the crew!

More tree-huggers needed!

If you'd like to get in touch please contact me!