- Written by Peace
The community farm has an Agroforestry area that combines rows of apple trees with cereal crops. Not only do the trees benefit the soil and biodiversity, but they also provide a valuable fruit crop. There are over 450 apple trees, which planted 7-8 years ago now produce fruit in significant quantities. In addition to selling and juicing the apples, we’ve started a community cider club.
Following last year’s harvest we began experimenting with which apple varieties make good cider. There are currently 120 litres of cider brewing in the barn, some made from single apple varieties while others are a bit more random. It's been ‘racked off’ (sediment removal) and although it already tastes rather fabulous we're letting it slowly mature and expect it will be ready for club members to enjoy within a few months.
The club has had expert guidance from Leo at Blue Barrel Cider. In addition to cider we’ve also started making apple cider vinegar. We hope to get together with other cider clubs in Nottingham in due course to learn about 'off notes' and other intricacies of cider making.
The winter months are the perfect time of year to care for the trees that provide us with the autumn apple bounty. Pruning helps shape the trees and stimulate growth to enhance productivity. As Leo, our pruning expert said, "we’re trying to harvest light and air." The deer, rabbits, voles and mice love the apple trees as much as we do, especially the young trees, so protection with guards from the nibblers is vital to maintain tree health. We’ve also been replacing trees that have died, principally due to last year’s drought we think.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our pruning and replanting sessions, despite the strong winds in which we’ve struggled to stay upright, and have all taken great pleasure in being with the trees and nurturing them. That hot bowl of soup afterwards tasted all the better for our efforts, even if my hair did make me look like the wild woman of the woods!
It won't be long until the trees blossom in the warm spring sunshine, a magical time to visit the farm.Read more about the cider club in the activities pages [insert link]