Established in 2013 and maintained by volunteers, the orchard is a wonderful facility for the village. If you can give of your time helping to maintain this wonderful space, please let us know what is a good time for you to get involved - we look forward to hearing from you (there is an orchard email address lower down the page).
All events are subject to demand and logistics so your input is very much appreciated. We would also love to hear from our other local clubs to see how we could work together to share activities, so if you are a member of one of these groups let us know what we can arrange with you too. email@example.com
If you know anyone who is not on email but would be interested, please pass on this information.
The bug hotel still needs more rooms so if your children/grandchildren/you want something to do and make another room that would be great.
April 2022: Orchard Update
The orchard is starting to wake up after the winter dormant season. The delightfully compact Johnny Mount pear trees have broken into blossom this week. Moira has put out the bird scarers that some of you made a few years ago plus her remarkably life-like bird of prey kite to deter blossom damage by pigeons
The cowslips have extended their range across much of the orchard this year and watch out for the gorgeous hairy violets in the area near the air monitoring station. The daffodils near the orchard entrance gate are also looking at their bes
Moira has done a wonderful job pruning the apples, pears and quinces and we’ve planted and mulched two new trees: another “Queen” cooking apple and a heritage dessert apple,” Twining’s Pippin” both near the entrance gate
Andy has started mowing the orchard grass and Jon has repaired the roof of the shed following the battering by storm Eunice in February. Maggie has been working on some orchard activity sheets for children which will be displayed in a holder on the front of the shed.
It may be a little chilly to visit the orchard today but there is plenty to look forward to in spring and summer. National Orchard Blossom Day is 29th April this year : our fruit trees should be looking spectacular by then. Later on, the main event in Chignal to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be held in the orchard on Sunday 5th June with a community picnic, dedication of the newly planted “Queen” tree and other fun activities such as treasure hunt and Jubilee Hat competition.
We look forward to seeing you in your orchard soon
Community Orchard Fruit Celebration, Sunday October 17th 12.00 – 2.00pm in the Orchard
And don’t forget to bring a (big) bag to carry home your fruit.
Top of the list is Braintree Seedling which is a wonderful Dessert apple – big cropper, looks handsome, tastes marvelous and stores well. It has an intense, sweet, rich, aromatic flavour with a hint of pineapple and is best eaten in December and January. It will be packed ready for you to carry home and keep in your fridge until then. Marvelous for the Christmas fruit bowl.
Austrian Scything in 2018
Friday 13th August : We are delighted to report that the early George Cave eating apples have been harvested and are available in a basket on the picnic bench for you to take away.
It looks as though we shall have a good harvest from the rest of the fruit trees for our annual Fruit Celebration on Sunday 17th October, immediately following the Harvest Thanksgiving service at St Nicholas Church. More details to follow.
We'll be doing the main cut of the orchard grass and wildflower meadow at the end of the month: your help with raking up the cut material a few days afterwards would be much appreciated. Date to be confirmed
We hope you enjoy the first fruits of the orchard this year.
Sat 10th July: Please come along to your Community Orchard in Chignal St James on Saturday 10th July, weather permitting, to help us celebrate *National Meadows Day.(*carried over from Saturday 3rd July owing to inclement weather).
Pyramidal Orchid Common Broomrape
For more information on National Meadows Day please visit: www.plantlife.org.uk
This warm and wet summer has brought a fabulous flush of colour and sweet smells to our orchard meadow. This type of grassland habitat is increasingly rare, particularly in Essex, so make the most of this gem on your doorstep. Meadows are not only beautiful, they are vital feeding and nesting habitats for insects, butterflies, moths, birds, small mammals and other wildlife.
The orchard is open all the time if you fancy a quiet stroll or stay a little longer and bring a picnic. It’s fenced in so a good place if you bring young children to let them run around and parking is available in the small car park opposite in the playing field.
If you would like any help identifying the wildflowers, we shall be in the Orchard between 11.00 – 12.00 on Saturday morning, along with plant books and magnifying lenses!
As a taster of what you may see at the moment at the orchard, we are excited to report sightings of both Pyramidal orchids, (Simon's photo) and Bee orchids, Scabious, Common Broomrape, ( Jon's photo) Ox-eye Daisy, Yellow Rattle and many more.
April 2021 Orchard News: Now that the weather has started to warm up and Spring is on its way, it’s a great time to re-discover the orchard. Simon has taken some lovely photos to tempt you to visit.
The plum and pear trees are resplendent with their frothy white blossom and buzzing with all important pollinators. Concerted efforts are being made to deter pigeons from damaging the fruit buds with the aid of a bird of prey kite which swoops very realistically and the bird scarers which some of you made a couple of years ago.
Also spectacular at the moment are the carpets of cowslips and violets. This year Moira discovered for the first time that Viola hirta “Hairy violet” has colonised the area near to where the kite is flying.
If you are thinking of taking a picnic to the orchard, Jon has repaired and smartened up the picnic table ready for you to enjoy. A new bench will also be installed this month.
January 2021 Orchard News: We hope that you are entering the New Year in good spirits despite the many restrictions on our lives at the moment. The orchard, like our gardens, has been a source of solace over the last year. Although we have had to cancel our programme of events, work has continued to ensure the orchard remains well maintained, fruitful and welcoming. On the recommendation of one of our orchard committee members, you may enjoy watching this episode of the BBC series 'Inside the Factory' on cider making. It includes Cider apple orchards, grafting and the cider making process. Available until the 1st February.
If you live locally, please feel free to visit the orchard as part of your daily exercise.
September 2020 Orchard News: Apples and Quince ready for collection in the Orchard. Some lovely fruit is now ready for collection from the table in the Orchard. Please take your own bags to collect it. On the tray are some Pearl apples. Described as handsome, lightly aromatic, sweet and crisp, can be chewy, it is a cross between Worcester Pearmain and Rival.Introduced in 1938. One of a series named after semi-precious stones. Ours are quite small and can be eaten in the next few weeks.
In the basket is a lovely crop of Braintree Seedling which have very little insect damage this year. Intense sweet, rich, aromatic flavour with a hint of pineapple. Quite firm, cream flesh. If yoy can manage it, try storing some in a plasric bag with a couple of holes punched in and keep in the fridge as these are best eaten in December or January.
At the back are two trays of quinces. Leave them in a warm room for a couple of weeks to ripen before you use them. You should be come aware of a wonderful scent when they are ready.
Please be very careful when preparing the quinces. They are very hard compared with pears and the area around the core is like rock
Peel, core and slice the quinces and then weigh them - you will need 2lb of prepared fruit. Put them in a pan with 1½ pints of water and simmer very gently until the fruit is really soft and mashed. Add 3lb sugar, stir until it is dissolved and boil the mixture rapidly until setting point is reached. Pot and cover the jam in the usual way.
Note - if the quinces are really ripe, add the juice of 1 lemon with the sugar.
This should make about 5lb of jam.
Tamara's Quince Recipe:
Wash the quinces and peel and core. Cut the flesh into little pieces. In a large saucepan heat 200ml water and 1kg sugar and heat to dissolve the sugar. Simmer until you have a good light caramel coloured syrup. Add 1kg Quince pieces and cook until soft and sweet.
Ladle it into jars and decorate around the quince pieces with circles of lemon or orange. Seal.
Once opened these don't store for very long so keep in the fridge.
Tamara is Herzegovinian and her family sells these beautiful jars of quinces in their farm shop. Used as a topping for ice cream they are delicious and a jar makes a really great Christmas present.
August 2020 Orchard News: Update: I'm pleased to report that we managed to complete the annual scything of the grass in a record 3 hours on Monday using an Austrian scythe, a motor scythe and strimmers. Many thanks to the following volunteers who turned out to help rake up the grass: Maggie, Sandra & Lee, Joan & Norman, Steve and Jon. It was lovely to be able to catch up with each other while raking in the sunshine after being isolated for so long during lockdown. Helen joined us and we have agreed to hold a joint event with St Nicholas Church in the orchard on Sunday 11th October. The Harvest Festival service, led by Rev. Janet Nicholls, Rural Adviser & Agricultural Chaplain, will start at 11.00 and will be followed by our annual Fruit Celebration. Fruit from the orchard will be available for you to take away and you are invited to bring produce from your own gardens to share with others. Subject to the COVID-19 regulations in force at the time we would suggest you bring your own chairs and refreshments.
Plum and Hay Raking on Friday 28th August. Good news! Moira has picked some of our Monarch plums and put them on the picnic table for you to collect. This is the first time they have fruited so please go along to the orchard and have a taste. Here is some information about their heritage:
Monarch Plums - dual use Culinary & Dessert. Raised by Thomas Rivers, Sawbridgeworth, Herts in about 1883 from an open-pollinated Autumn Compote. Awarded a First Class Certificate by the RHS in 1894. Was widely grown commercially in the UK as a late variety.
Large round fruit. Blue-black bloomy skin often with some white dots. Greenish yellow firm flesh; free stone. Not much flavour as a Dessert plum but good flavour and colour as a cooker.
The other piece of news is Malcolm, Steve, Andy and Lynne will be scything all of the long meadow grass in the orchard on 24th August and would really appreciate your help with raking up the hay on Friday 28th anytime from 9.30a.m. Come armed with a rake and wear thick gloves and stout boots. We shall stack the hay at the side of the orchard as in previous years.
Just a reminder that you will be able to park in the playing field car park opposite. we look forward to seeing you on Friday. We look forward to seeing you there.
October 2019 Orchard News: Orchard Fruit Celebration, Sunday 20th October, from 12 noon at the Chignals & Mashbury Village Hall, Mashbury Rd, Chignal St James CM1 4TS. As bad weather is expected our fruit celebration venue has been changed to the village hall where, as well as tasting and taking away fruit from the orchard we will enjoy home made refreshments and we invite you to bring your own surplus garden produce or preserves to share with others. Don't forget that our fruit is organically grown so be prepared to find occasional slight bird or bug damage and, please bring your own bags to take home your produce. The orchard fruit celebration follows on from the 11a.m. Harvest Festival service at St Nicholas' Church, Chignal Smealey, where you are invited to donate dried and tinned food for Chelmsford Food Bank. You can donate your food items either at the church or the fruit celebration.
September 2019 Orchard News: We'd really appreciate your help to do some HAY RAKING on Tuesday 10th September. Members of the committee will be at the orchard from 9.30a.m.onwards.Please bring a rake and wear protective gloves and sturdy shoes/boots as the ground is uneven. The annual scything and raking up of the meadow grass is one of the main tasks in managing the orchard and many hands make light work! It's also lots of fun so do please try to come along and help. Parking available on the playing field opposite.
June 2019 Orchard News: The date of the Community Orchard Wildflower Picnic was changed to Sunday 30th June to ensure that the Village Hall's toilet facilities were available on the day.
As a taster for the orchard wildflower picnic there was a Wildflower and Tree Walk on Saturday, 22 June at The Green, Chignal St James. The walk was at an easy pace and took around 1hr 30 mins - 2hrs.
May 2019 Orchard News: Many thanks to those of you who have responded to Simon confirming your sponsorship of an orchard tree. This scheme and other matters about how the orchard is managed and planned events were discussed at our public Annual Meeting on Monday 13th May at the Chignals & Mashbury Village Hall.
February 2019 Orchard News: We had a marvellous sunny day in the Orchard on 12 February for our first Hedge Social. A special thanks to all the people who came out to cut back hedges and to collect up the trimmings.
Malcolm provided us with very welcome hot coffee and we all got some fresh air and exercise, and caught up with village news!
Other events coming up this year include a Mid-Summer Picnic on Sunday 23 June and the Fruit Celebration in the Autumn
Photos show, left, the newly pruned hedges and, right, Barbara and Andy installing a new irrigation tube that we hope will make watering more effective this summer. Two new “Tun” apples, (traditionally grown in Chignal Smealey) have joined another “Queen” and a “Pearl” planted last week.
We look forward very much to seeing you in your orchard sometime this year.
October 2018 Orchard News: Sunday 14th October annual Fruit Celebration from 3 - 5 p.m. This was an opportunity for you to bring and share any surplus fruit/ homemade preserves you had, along with a picnic. Teas, coffees and soft drinks were provided. There was a bumper crop of quinces at the orchard this year so there was plenty of fruit for people to take away along with some recommended recipes. We also had orchard and hedgerow conserves for sale.
July 2018 Orchard News: **MOTH ALERT** - 24th July. Two Eyed Hawk Moth caterpillars were found feasting on the orchard's new Pearl apple tree. They were moved to a larger tree to continue their munching.
July 2017 Orchard News: Thank you to all who came along to cut the grass in July. The annual moth survey was carried out and shows that there are more species than in previous surveys. The list of wild flora growing among the rees is also growing longer.
May 2017 Orchard News: Thank you to all who came along and enjoyed the May Day sharing picnic in the orchard where a good time was had by all. A marquee was decorated with flower swags whilst prettily decorated buffet tables groaned under the weight of cakes, cheeses and every kind of savoury and sweet delight imaginable, all brought along by the visitors. Children danced with hoops that they had decorated while grown ups enjoyed tea and coffee from Jackie and Malcolm's camper van which they kindly brought along for the day.
January 2015 Orchard News: Despite the rainy weather at the wassail on the 3rd of January, many of you were not put off and came out to enjoy what we hope you thought was a jolly good time!
Enormous thanks are due to the Molly men who entertained us with dance, shouts and music. Through them we were able to witness old village traditions as well as learning an energetic dance!
The evening flowed smoothly and before we knew it we had welcomed in the new year, fed the trees with apple juice and hung toast out on the trees as well.
With all the music and singing we hope that we have encouraged healthy growth to the trees in 2015! (If you did not come along - just to recap - wassailing is a pagan tradition to encourage a healthy orchard the following summer. Molly men come along and sing and dance - their faces may be blacked up. We are all encouraged to join in and we also sprinkle apple juice and tie toast on to the trees. It's a fun activity following a very old rural tradition that takes place in the dark. Children love the freedom of running around at night time too!)
September 2014 Orchard News:We trust you have all had an enjoyable summer and have found the time to call into the orchard at some point. The bug hotel has been thriving, but we still need more compartments - so if you have been cutting and clearing in your garden, please bundle up twigs and bark and bring along to the hotel.
We have had fantastic comments placed on our notice board above. Visitors have stopped by to wander and have picnics in the orchard and children have told us what they have found. Fabulous
June 2014 Orchard News: Picnic barbecue and Bug Night:The weather was definitely on our side for our picnic, barbecue and bug night! We could not have asked for better.
Our bug hotel was officially opened by Zoe Nuttall as she cut the ribbon and more rooms arrived throughout the evening. There is still space for more additions, so add to the hotel when you can.
May 2013 Orchard News: The Jubilee Orchard is official! Even the sun made an appearance along with villagers and friends to witness the official opening of the Chignal and Mashbury Jubilee Orchard on Saturday, May 18th.
Our thanks to Phil Taylor from Lathcoats who officiated for us by cutting the ribbon and setting off the balloons as well as providing us with his own Lathcoats Coxes Apple juice. It was enjoyed by all.
Thanks to everyone for supporting the project so far - we have achieved so much in a short space of time. Our thanks to Transscape for doing the grafting on some very wet and windy days and bringing the project in on time.
We hope to have secured the benches in the next few weeks, so please use the orchard for your picnics, and stop overs on your walks. There are still additions to make on site, so watch this space!
To all that have adopted a tree, your labels will gradually appear on your tree, so another good reason to keep calling in. And if you have not already adopted a tree and would like to, we still have some trees looking for adopters! so please get in touch if you are interested.
Contacts: Lynn Ballard. Tel: 01245 440880. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org