Uckfield gardening company Vacher Gardens has been helping to transform an overgrown and untidy community orchard into a welcoming picnic area.
Ringmer Community Orchard contains more than 70 varieties of apple, plum, and pear trees, and members work together to cultivate the site organically.
Vacher Gardens owner Chris Vacher offered the services of two members of his team who used a specialist mower ‘The Masher’ to tidy up the land.
The offer came after Chris met orchard adviser Peter May on a pruning course.
Chris said: ““Earlier this year we arranged to meet Peter at the orchard for some further fruit tree pruning training and we noticed that the orchard meadow looked in need of some serious maintenance.
“It transpired that the mower sitting in one of the sheds no longer worked despite many attempts to get it going.
“That’s when it occurred to me that maybe we could help as we have a specialist rotary mower known as ‘The Masher’ which is regularly used on rough ground in a plantation of 3,000 trees at Hadlow Down.”
The orchard has now been mown and trimmed twice during the summer and the orchard director Katharine Finnigan and her team of volunteers are in the midst of a successful harvest.
The orchard at Broyle Farm, was planted nearly 15 years ago on land donated by Anthony Tasker.
Food growing projects
It is managed by orchard members with support from Common Cause, a Lewes based not-for-profit social enterprise company which supports food growing projects in the local community.
Most of the orchard’s apple, pear and plum trees are unusual heritage varieties. There are also some old heritage Sussex varieties that have become largely forgotten but taste delicious such as Tinsley Quince and Saltcote Pippin.
Chris said: “Peter and Katherine are very pleased with how the orchard is looking now and that makes it a lot more appealing for local people who want to make use of it,” said Chris.