How does a community orchard grow?

Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) was well and truly woken up by many hundreds of Wassailers in January. As the days grow longer, sunlight stirs the sap, that swells the buds, that break into blossom – awaking the trees for another year of harvest hope. We look forward to pressing the juice and returning a symbolic cupful of cider to the tree roots at next year’s Wassail.

Fruit trees thrive when well cared for. A community orchard is raised by many hands attending to the soil, pruning, and nature-friendly management of pests and problems. A community orchard spreads it seeds with many minds to organise working meetings, events, and projects. A community orchard brings together people with a whole bunch of practical skills to look after the site, structures, and trees.

You are invited to support our lively and lovely orchard by becoming a Friend of HOCO. We also warmly welcome new members keen to learn, and become active Harvest-share members. As well as a share of the fruit harvest, active members enjoy the wellbeing benefits of doing good work in a gorgeous green space with a friendly group.

Are you new to fruit growing and orchards? Joining HOCO as an active member and taking part in a course is a great way to learn. Get going with Get Growing Fruit Trees – an introduction over four seasons, and Pruning for Beginners courses. Professional gardeners and more experienced growers can refresh skills and deepen practical knowledge by taking part in Pruning for Improvers courses.

Not sure about joining HOCO? Happy to lend a hand clearing the ground for our new community pollinator project? Part-funded by West of England Combined Authority (WECA), ‘Bee Active, Bee Fruitful!’ will enrich the orchard habitat for wild bees and other pollinating insects by planting year-round food forage. Get in touch for news of active community volunteer sessions coming up in March and April.

  • Get Growing Fruit Trees – a hands-on introduction
    Course dates: Sundays – 10 March, 12 May, 14 July, 15 September
    Deadline for applications: Friday 8 March
  • Dormant Season Pruning for Beginners – Saturday 16 March
  • Dormant Season Pruning for Improvers – Sunday 17 March
    More information about HOCO membership, courses, and Bee Active volunteer days:
    Phone: 0117 373 1587

Words by Shannon Smith aka The Apple Tree Lady

Photograph by Jamie Carstairs