Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Apple Day at Church Farm – 30th Sept

Apple Day

Vicars Orchard contains apples, pears, plums, greengages and damsons, crab apples, cherries, quinces, nectarines, peaches and medlars. Most are traditional varieties rarely available in the shops today. A lot originated locally, so there are many 19th and early 20th century varieties from River’s at Sawbridgeworth and Laxton’s at Bedford. Some like the Comice pear or the Mirabelle plum have been known since Neolithic times. There are approximately 130 different types of trees and over 700 individuals.

The orchard was laid out in spring 2008 and most of the trees were planted then. Most would have been two years old when planted here, making them 11 years old today. Most are grafts which means that the main trunk and root system is from a vigorous variety which would not have very interesting fruit, and the upper branches (and fruits) are from a more interesting variety which would struggle if planted in the soil.

This is an organic orchard. Instead of artificial fertilizers we use manure from the red poll cows, which over-winter alongside the orchard. No insecticide or herbicides are used and the orchard has resident bees: take care around the hives! Windfalls feed the pigs on the farm.

This is still a young orchard. In years to come when the trunks of the trees thicken and the fruiting branches are stouter and higher, it will be possible to combine fruit growing with grazing sheep or geese, allowing for natural fertilization and mowing, and then the trees will no longer be susceptible to rabbit damage which is a major problem at present.

pick your own

Make a Day of It—Saturday, 30th September 2017

Join in Apple Day Activities at Church Farm Orchard
Free Entry all Day and Free parking at Church Farm Ardeley

4.00pm Optional Farm Tractor & Trailer Talk & Tour (£4.50)
5.00pm Pre-Show Drinks in the Jolly Waggoners Pub (pay at bar) and
5.00pm Pre-Show Barbecue/Buffet & Bites from the Farm : Introduction (£5.00 )
5.55pm Walk to the Village Hall
6.15pm No Finer Life : Play Begins (Tickets £9 )
7.30pm Interval
7.45pm Audience with Graham Harvey, Author & Agricultural Editor of The Archers Q&A
8.30pm Retire to the pub : Cheese & Desserts (£5.00, pre bookable online)

Book online: www.churchfarmardeley.co.uk, Events (from the home page)

 

 

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Community Interests and the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme

The first week of August saw Annie of Rural Care launch herself into the world of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. This meant organising, arranging and running two days of activities on the farm for different local community groups.

The first was for a support group for people with Parkinsons which coincided with some miserable weather and a puncture, but as usual with all things Rural Care these small difficulties can be overcome with a bit of planning, preparation and creative thinking.

Chickens were visited and fed, lunch enjoyed and finally with the heavens opening, Church Farm sheep fleeces were miraculously turned into pieces of art.

The following day it was the turn of some Angels to visit the farm which are a support group for children with autism. They managed to get further afield to feed courgettes to the pigs as well as the customary visit to the chickens gratefully prepared by the Angelic Angelina and the rest of the gang from Rural Care.

Lisa from Angels commented on how much they all enjoyed the visit, which also included some planting in the allotment and some play time, and how great it had been to see the farm brought to life.

These visits are supported by Natural England and it is a joy to see people who might not get the chance to enjoy the farm and the countryside being able to get an insight into this way of life.

We are hoping to be able to share photos of the visits from Ray who was the photographer from the first group and Lisa from the second.

So well done to Annie and her support team which included Rural Care, The Café and all the plants and animals.

Chicken Dave