This report was prepared by Steve Gribble as part of the application for the grant from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust – and serves as a good log of our progress to date:-
Brownings Orchard Regeneration
Interim Project Progress – Report 1
11th May 2017
This picture was taken in December 2015, the first foray into the proposed site for Brownings Orchard. It shows our intrepid Chairman fighting his way through a field full of brambles and overgrown hedgerows
Just over 12 months later, in January 2017, teams of volunteer work parties began clearing areas of the field, primarily to open up access points for heavier machinery.
By the end of February it was declared time to call in the contactors to carry out the major clearance works, much to the relief of the hard working volunteers.
Early in March groundwork contractors began clearing the large areas that had, by now, been completely taken over by extremely mature bramble bushes. This also included some levelling of severely rutted areas which made volunteer access much easier and safer.
Once this initial clearance was complete, professional arborists were called in to cut back the overgrown hedgerows in preparation for hedgelaying. Unfortunately this also involved some major, but necessary, tree surgery to open the area up, which would be to the benefit of the future trees.
As would be expected all this work created a vast amount of ‘debris’ to be cleared away, which was enthusiastically carried out, once again, by our group of volunteers.
You will note that the lady on top of the pile in the first view did get off before the conflagration began.
With the pile gone, these pictures show how much of the area has been opened up (this is the same area seen in the first picture).
During this period a training course was run for the volunteers on fruit tree pruning. A number of root stocks were purchased and scions taken from Gloucester variety apple and pear trees in our Coneygree orchard. These have subsequently been grafted on to these rootstocks. If successful they will hopefully offset some of the cost of purchasing trees for Brownings Orchard.
It was anticipated that we would have completed further clearing work including scarifying to remove most of the bramble roots by the end of April. This has had to be delayed, while awaiting for grass cutting to be carried out by the local farmer, as access to the site for the heavier machinery required is through these fields.
Clearance work has also been carried out at the PROW access point. Work will start soon on improving the soakaway around this point to improve pedestrian access and also allow for smaller machines to be moved between Coneygree and Brownings Orchard.
Clearance here and in the orchard site has made it possible to assess and measure up for gating and fencing needs. Sourcing these items is currently underway.