Wellies and spades for Horam’s planting day

Children plant native Sussex apple trees in orchard as part of educational projects. Several local schools involved. Horam.
Children plant native Sussex apple trees in orchard as part of educational projects. Several local schools involved. Horam.

Apples were on the menu for a group of children who attended a successful Rare Sussex Variety Apple Tree Orchard planting event at Woodside Educational Centre, Horam.

The youngsters from All Saints’ and St Richard’s (Heathfield,) Buxted, Bonners, Maynards Green, Dallington, Five Ashes and St Mark’s primary schools donned their wellies, picked up their spades and got planting. The day was postponed from earlier in March when the ground was frozen.

Among the species of trees they put into the ground was the rare tree, Hawkridge, a variety that dates back to the early 1800s and originates from Hawkridge Farm near Hailsham. The apple is medium sized with a sweet flavour and fruits are ready to pick from September onwards.

Other varieties were Sussex Mother which originated in the Heathfield area in the arly 1800s .

Farmer and centre manager John Brooksbank said: “When the tree planting initiative is complete they will have planted 31 Sussex county originating varieties, making the orchard a very special remnant which will be almost unique to this area of Sussex. We will use this orchard to deliver a wide spectrum of ‘seasons linked’ teaching and training encompassing all facets of community across the county.”

John is working with a local specialist who has been responsible for planting over 40 new orchards in Sussex over the last four years.

The lucky pupils took part in measuring out the tree positioning within the new orchard grid and planting up the unusual Sussex variety trees. There were lots of interesting facts learnt by everyone who took part, including details about orchard wildlife, community importance and the history of the trees they planted.

Woodside farm has an environmental learning centre for school children, as well as young people and adults having special learning needs and mental health conditions.

Through a diverse programme of ‘outcome led’ land-based environmental activities, The Great Out-tours aims to enrich and empower people to see, interpret and understand the beauty, features and importance of our countryside.

John said: “With their new-found knowledge, people can learn to appreciate their environment and become involved in their own communities.”