apples

Beautiful new sign for Ringmer Community Orchard

By Emma Chaplin

Owena from Baulcombes Barn brought three Bluebell House members along to Ringmer Community Orchard for a very special reason. Baulcombes regulars Ash and Sue, along with Paul, have developed a keen interest in pyrography, also called poker wood, or wood burning, which is creating art in wood by burning a design with a hot tip.  

I was hugely impressed. It's a wonderful piece of work, with beautiful apple designs. The lettering must have taken a lot of work to be so accurate, neat and well-spaced.

Ash told me about how it come about:

"Last year Ben, Bluebell House Occupational Therapist, asked us if we'd mind creating a sign for Ringmer Community Orchard, after Flourish asked if it might be possible, having seen one we'd done for Baulcombes. "

"It took about two and a half months, which is nine or ten sessions. We all had pyrography machines and worked on it together, three at a time. We bought the wood online. We wanted something to last. This is birch ply. It's nice and thick, which is good for  pyrography. "

"It's the first time we've tried something so big. We have tried pine in the past, but it was too soft." 

"In terms of the apple designs we chose, it was a joint effort. Sue drew the designs on paper. We all chose the font. Natalie from Bluebell House printed the letters off for us. We wanted it to stand out. Paul did all the measuring to fit the letters in. We traced the lettering because we found that using graphite paper didn't work."

"We did the burning together. Then we put on about three coats of varnish - and the varnish does pong! You've got to be careful about breathing it in. We kept it in a separate room."

"The last piece we made was a 5th birthday design for Bluebell House."

"We've really enjoyed it and us doing pyrography has inspired other people to do it at Bluebell."

Owena took a look at the sign to see if she could put it up there and then, but, looking at it, we all felt it needed some extra bits of wood to fix it properly to the gate without putting holes in the sign in a way that would spoilt the design. So that will happen at a future date.

Owena had bought some art supplies for Emma to present as a thank you from Flourish to Sue, Ash and Paul for all their incredible hard work.

Katharine and the Orchard members will be hugely delighted to have such a wonderful sign.

Apple Course with Plumpton Supported Interns

On a sunny day in early October, a group of 13 Supported Interns from Plumpton College came along to Ringmer Community Orchard, where Peter May, Stephan Gehrels (from Brighton Permaculture Trust) and facilitator Mark Gilbert greeted them and put on a day of learning about apples; picking them, grading them and weighing them. The group worked very hard and managed to pick lots of apples, mostly Red Falstaff with some (green) Edward VII. They also tasted some juice from the Fruit Factory at Stanmer Park.

Here are some photos (taken by Mark Gilbert):

One week later, the same group went to the Fruit Factory at Stanmer Park where Stephan of Brighton Permaculture Trust showed them how to wash the apples, cut out the rotten bits, then crush them in the macerator, put the pulp in the hydropress, and press the pulp into gallons of lovely raw juice.

The group then tasted it, poured some into glass bottles and some into plastic containers. The glass bottles went on to be pasteurised, the group could take the raw juice containers away, one each, to drink (within three days).

A passer-by came over to buy some raw juice for her grandson, which was fun.

Here are some photos of the day (taken by Emma Chaplin):

In the afternoon, after a lunch break, Bryn from Brighton Permaculture Trust (BPT) joined the group to give a tour of the orchards at Stanmer. He talked about how orchards were planted in order to produce food and drink, for people to enjoy and learn in, to support wildlife, and to provide blossom for bees to produce honey. He showed us the bee hives.

He explained that BPT help schools and communities to plant orchards. Each orchard will feed three or four generations of people because apple trees can last to be over 100 years old. Trees get less productive as they get old. Pruning helps refresh growth. Sometimes older branches fall off and leave holes. These are good for insects and birds. Blue tits and great tits love them, and they also eat green caterpillars. 

The orchard we first looked at holds the national collection of Sussex apple trees, and each had a beautiful ceramic name label, made by Anne-Marie Bur.

We looked at the moss and lichen -  Bryn said that there are 60 species at Stanmer - and told us that lichen is an algae and a fungi living together. 

Members of the group asked lots of questions as we walked around. Bryn asked us to think about why trees produce fruit in the first place - and what we concluded, was that it means the tree spreads its seeds - after the apples are eaten. These happened by means of horses, pigs and bears in Kazakhstan, where apple trees originated. 

We looked at some Golden pippin apples. It's thought the Romans might have eaten apples similar to these. The Romans were skilled at grafting, and we know they cultivated orchards. Surviving Roman mosaics certainly depict apples.

Bryn showed us the Sussex collection, which has a row of trees planted at an angle so that they stay small - also, Bryn explained - branches trained to grow sideways produce more fruit. 

We looked at the Knobby russet - which tastes nice but has rough skin, like a toad.

Bryn showed us a large lump at root of tree which he told us had come from the grafting process. 

We discussed why there are so many types of apples, and we thought it was because they all taste different, their ripening times vary, and each has adapted to grow in a particular place. 

We talked about the Great Storm of 1987 and the fact that it led to a lot of damaged and destroyed trees in Stanmer.

After this really interesting walk and talk, the group headed back to the Fruit Factory, where Stephan had finished pasteurising the juice. The bottles were warm but ready for the group to take back to their base at the Linklater, where they can design their own labels. These they will show Huw at the Elephant and Castle pub, the last part of the apple juice project between Flourish and Plumpton. Then their juice bottles can be sold towards a charity of the students' choice. Here is a link to the work done by last year's students.

Thanks to Stephan, Bryn, Peter and Mark for all their hard work - and thanks to the interns for all of theirs too.

Emma Chaplin, Flourish Project Manager

Apples! Flourish User Group outing to Ringmer Community Orchard

Flourish were delighted to be able to hold a meeting of project users at the Ringmer Community Orchard. Orchard coordinator Katharine Finnigan had suggested it would be a good time to come, since lots of apples are ripening at this time of year. 

We welcomed the St Nicholas Day Centre group, who normally attend Lewes Community Allotment, and a group from Bluebell House, who usually go to Baulcombes Barn every week.

None had visited the Orchard before, but they have tried the juice, and it's been very popular.

The groups had been warned to wear sensible footwear, which was a good idea since the grass was long and wet. Emma and Felicity Ann welcomed everyone and Peter May then took the group on a tour to explain about the history of the site, how it had come to have so many varieties of Sussex apples as well as other fruit, as well as explaining a bit about the differences between each apple variety, how they grow and when they ripen. 

People were able to meet each other, learn about apples and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.

Felicity Ann had brought some wonderful apple cake, bramble jam and crab apple jelly tarts she had made from Allotment produce.

Everyone picked some Lord Lambourne apples to take home.

Emma spoke to everyone about the newsletter and planned project-wide exhibition in June 2018, with the hope that people can think about what they'd like to be included, or what they might like to contribute.

Emma said she'd be pleased to arrange another opportunity for people to visit.

Plumpton Supported Interns - Day Three of our Apple Course - Pub & (Sea)Cidery visits

5 December 2016 When we met up last week for the last part of Flourish's work with them on our apple-themed course, it was clear that the two groups of Plumpton College supported interns had all been working very hard since we last saw them at the Fruit Factory in October.

Here's a video we made at that time.

After they'd taken their bottles of pasteurised juice made from apples picked at Ringmer Community Orchard back to college, they had a talk by the Plumpton marketing lecturer about how they might best come up with way to promote, market and sell it, as well as a talk from a visiting graphic designer. With the support of their own lecturers, they then began generating ideas, thinking of possible names and creating label designs for marketing the juice.

So, for the last part of our work with the interns, we arranged visits for them to two local businesses, whose work relates to apples in some way - Huw from the Elephant and Castle pub in Lewes and Matt from Seacider in Ditchling - both of whom were also kind enough to comment on the label and name ideas.

Both groups had prepared some label/ideas boards and a short presentation for these trips.

Visit 1, Elephant and Castle

After the Plumpton group came in from a very cold day and bought themselves lunch at the pub - we all went upstairs to the meeting room where landlord Huw Jones helpfully answered lots of questions put by the group about his job - what's great (the sociable aspects) and what's hard (late nights, long days).

He told them what his job entails (employing and managing staff, doing a lot of admin, banking, sorting rotas, social media, making sure the place is clean and well-stocked). He also talked about the Elly's busiest night of the year - Bonfire.

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Huw sells Owlet's apple juice, so he talked a bit about that. We discussed the recent rebranding of Harvey's brewery, general pricing of products he sells and what different staff roles there are in a pub, how the shift patterns work and who gets paid what.

He tried the juice the interns had brought along and pronounced it "truly amazing".

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The interns gave their group juice presentation to him, one by one, including explaining that they'd decided to call their juice Liquid Sunshine.

Huw liked the name, the vivid, eye-catching designs, how creative everyone had been, the fact that the main variety of apple they'd picked (Ashmead's Kernal) is mentioned.

He really liked the 3D design work, but wondered if it might be hard to make into a flat label - but thought it might work as a special edition label that could be hung around the bottleneck.

He left the interns with a lot to think about.

Flourish project manager Emma explained that Ringmer Community Orchard would like to adapt and use one of the designs for their own juice, if possible.

Trip 2, Seacider

Matt at Seacider

Matt at Seacider

On a sunny but also very chilly day, the second group took their own blend of apple juice (made from different apple varieties than the first group - Red Falstaff, for example) to an industrial estate near Ditchling for a visit to Seacider, a fascinating and relatively new cider-making business run by Mark and Matt.

Mark had to dash off delivering cider, so Matt talked to the group about what they do. He explained that they used to make beer, as Goldstones brewery, but got into trying to make cider - and within five months went from being the smallest 'cidery' (which the cider version of 'brewery') in Sussex to one of the largest!

Matt told us about his own background, and the fact that his route to doing what he now loves hadn't been an academic one, because he'd struggled at school. He went and lived/ worked for some small cideries in the West country for a few months. He talked about his working day and the need for flexibility - if you're starting up your own business, it's a lot of hard work. He went into a lot of interesting detail about the manufacturing process, mentioned that fact that they make their cider out of apples rejected by supermarkets for not being perfect (see below).

Then he told us how their funky branding had come about. "We're not really interested in the kind of labels that feature an old man under an apple tree - we wanted something different and modern". His girlfriend Lauren Bartlett came up with the distinctive Mexican skull design, which includes images of apples, seed, leaves and Brighton Pavilion. "We're very much Brighton-based".

Fantastic logo

Fantastic logo

He talked to the interns about how you want your branding to both fit in, yet stand out - you need to think about your target audience - and it needs to entice people into buying it.

The group did their presentation to Matt, then he tasted their juice, which they've called Sweet Sussex, "it's really good", and commented on their designs.

All in all, both groups had two great visits and learnt a lot. Many thanks to Seacider and the Elephant and Castle for their time and hospitality.

Emma Chaplin

Useful links

Interested in becoming a member of Ringmer Community Orchard? More info HERE

Want to know more about the Plumpton Supported Internship programme? HERE

For more about Flourish, HERE, and Common Cause Co-op HERE

And here are links to the Elephant and Castle and  Seacider websites.

Peter May's Guide to apples.. and more!

1. Some information about the apple varieties we grow at Ringmer Community Orchard  Ringmer Community Orchard

ADAMS PEARMAIN

1826 The origin of the apple is Herefordshire or possibly Norfolk. Its first name was “Hanging Pearmain” because it stays or hangs on the tree for a long time without dropping off.  The apple was later renamed Adam’s Pearmain after Robert Adam an apple enthusiast.

Rich, aromatic nutty flavour.  Orange red colour with greenish, yellow and gold.  The tree is scab (a fungal disease) resistant and tends to fruit one year with few apple the next.

ASHMEAD’S KERNEL

First grown by William Ashmead who lived in Gloucester. A vigorously growing variety that needs lots of space. The apple has a strong sweet-sharp flavour. Greenish-yellow fruit with some russeting.

EDWARD VII  

1902 Rowe’s Nursery Worcester. This is a very late flowering cooking apple with a green skin that becomes more yellow as it ripens. Named after the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.

LORD LAMBOURNE

1907 raised by Laxton Brothers of Bedford. The fruit is sweet and jucy with a slight strawberry flavour and some acidity.  Bright red skin with stripes over greenish-yellow background.  The skin becomes greasy as it stores

Orleans Reinnette

ORLEANS REINETTE

Probably originated in France and first described by a Mr Knopp 1776.  The fruit has an orange red and gold colours with an aromatic, nutty sweet taste.

RIBSTON PIPPIN

First grown at Ribston Hall in Yorkshire from a pip brought over from Normandy in about 1688. Intense, rich, aromatic flavour.  Brownish orange flush and red stripes over yellow green.

 

 2. A Guide to Apple Picking, Grading and Storage

 Different apple varieties ripen over a long period from August to October.  You will know when the apple is ripe because it can easily be picked from the tree by holding the apple gently and giving it a slight twist. Other signs of ripeness are the fruit developing bright colours and the pips turning from white to brown.  Sometimes you have to pick the fruit early when birds start to peck the fruit.

Apples need to be picked with care with the stalk intact because damaged or bruised fruit does not store well.  Also customers will not want to buy bruised fruit.

the apples should gently be placed in the picking container and then when the container is full, carefully emptied into the grading bins.

The grades are:

Grade 1 Largest fruit without any blemishes or spots.

Grade 2 Medium sized fruit with occasional marks

Grade 3 Juicing grade fruit. Small and marked fruit

in modern orchards there are machines which measure, grade and wash each size of fruit automatically.

Once graded the apple bins should be clearly labelled with the variety and grade, then moved to the apple store.  At Ringmer this is a building in the coolest part of the orchard.  A cool temperature helps to slow down the ripening of the fruit and allows it to be stored for several months.  Some varieties will store longer than others. Edward V11 will store till January while Orleans Reinette quickly becomes soft.

Modern orchards have very sophisticated apple stores which allow fruit to be kept for nine months.  This is achieved by keeping the fruit at a low temperature and then reducing the amount of oxygen in the store which slows down ripening.

More information about Ringmer Community Orchard