An Apple A Day….

What wonderful community support from so many people in and around Dervaig and further afield. Our Community Orchard, despite all the difficulties, is continuing to thrive and develop due the practical help and advice of so many.

During the last twelve months the Orchard has become such an important outdoor learning space for Dervaig School as the children returned after lockdowns. Activities have included learning bushcraft skills, creating dens, making stretchers, discovering lots more about our local environment as well as finding evidence of dragons! Jan Dunlop, the ranger, ran a very successful after school Nature Club, which focused on trees, minibeasts, flowers and culminated in a scavenger hunt. The new raised beds were planted up with potatoes, onions and courgettes and will be ready to harvest soon. The Wee Forest Folk have enjoyed using the orchard for various activities. Lottery Funding has enabled Rachel French to access the Woodland Activity Training and this will help us to continue to develop the outdoor learning at the orchard as well as at Ardura and across the island.

A sterling team of volunteer builders have laid foundations and then constructed and painted the Apple Store. As its name suggests it will provide storage for fruit but also a shelter to further enable round the year use.

Along with the Apple Store, raised beds have been built and a fire pit/story area created. A much needed rabbit fence was added to the deer fence as there has been a real problem with rabbits ring barking some of the apple trees despite having tree guards. New trees have been ordered to replace those affected.

For the first time we were able to invite folk to come and pick black and red currants, we had a bumper harvest of both crops. Despite much of the tree blossom being affected  by late spring frosts many of the trees are bearing fruit.

We are delighted the Orchard is going to be represented at the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November. A display board will be on show in the Quaker Building. Also look out for the new Orchard website which will be launched next month.

Whatever the weather we will be holding a lunchtime event on the 26th September to celebrate ‘Apple Day’. Food, fun activities and a warm welcome will be on offer.

None of these achievements would have happened without the practical help of so many willing and hardworking volunteers who we are so fortunate to have in our island community. We are also very grateful for the financial support of the Waterfall Fund, our fund raisers and our generous benefactors.

The children’s hard work, enthusiasm and enjoyment of the orchard delights us all and gives much hope for the future.

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