November is the month when we traditionally remember the people that went before us, and is a good time to reflect on a day back in April.
In April this year we planted 32 trees in memory of my late husband, Dan Gomm, and in 2017 we will plant the same amount again to replace some of the trees that have died. 60 friends and family came together and dug holes, planted trees, put in tree stakes, manured around them and erected benches. The children also made some lovely bug hotels. After that we ate a lovely stew.
The trees are traditional varieties of fruit trees and were purchased from the Brogdale Trust, the national fruit tree collection. Some of the trees are so rare, that they have to be specially grafted for Church Farm and are only available in 2017.
Darren, our Church Farm orchard expert, made sure every tree was planted to the correct depth and with the required care to ensure their best chance, whilst Roger and Mary Gomm, my parents-in-law, painstakingly mapped out the grid of where the trees were going. Roger has also engraved up to 300 labels for the fruit trees on permanent aluminium labels, giving a new sense of energy to the orchard.
Why Church Farm? Church Farm orchard seemed an obvious choice in the end. Dan loved apple trees, we got married at Church Farm during his illness, Mary and Roger lived locally and volunteer on the farm, and I set up Rural Care and spend most of my life here.
There were no flowers on Dan’s grave, instead people donated money towards the fruit trees. He will get blossom every year in the spring from now on, and apples, nectarines, pears and gages in the autumn. And heaps of wild flowers and wild life! Just as he would have liked.
Maybe the orchard will become a place to remember all of those who we have lost at Church Farm, like Roger Waygood, Wendy’s dear husband, Tim, Adrian and Jackie’s father; Tim Monohan, the Co-Farmer; Kevin Doires, a dear volunteer; Jason Kay, the butcher; and Terry Lauezzari, a dear neighbour and friend of the farm.
Planting the trees in memory of Dan was an amazing day, if not physically and emotionally exhausting! But it was very much a positive action to take in memory of him. For anybody who knew Dan Gomm and would like to help with planting the rest of the trees in memory of him, the next tree planting day will be on 25.03.17 from 10-3. Please RSVP with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anybody would be interested in a similar event and plant a (few) tree(s) to remember a loved one please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Ann, Manager, Rural Care
Photos by Nick Hooper