GREEN-FINGERED gardeners – all pupils at Manor Primary School in Uckfield – were looking forward to planning their own orchard on Tuesday.
The idea was inspired by work carried out by Action in Rural Sussex and the Brighton Permaculture Trust who have collaborated over many years on a number of initiatives including school and community orchard planting, research, publications and preserving local varieties of apples.
The seed was sown at the school when head teacher Margaret Coleman received their booklet and the idea quickly took root. The orchard will be known as the Jubilee Orchard to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Jubilee Orchard started with five apple trees, two pear trees and one plum. The apples are all old local varieties including the Coronation apple which was first named in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII, and the Alfriston which was grown in Uckfield and named in 1891.
A full day of activities was also arranged for Tuesday. As well as the tree planting, children took part in apple tasting and an apple crumble baking workshop. Apples were also there as the basis for science, literacy, art, music and games throughout the day.
Margaret Coleman explained that the orchard will play a part in lessons throughout the year, supporting all aspects of the curriculum. The school plans to incorporate National Apple Day each October into its calendar together with wassailing each January. This ancient ceremony usually involves feeding the apple trees with cider to promote growth for the following year, but the children at Manor will probably use apple juice instead.
Amy Woolgar, science subject leader, said: “We are thrilled by how enthusiastic the children are about our new project and have already learned so much about the history and science of apples which they have presented in assembly. It is particularly special because the children at Manor are leaving a wonderful legacy for future generations of pupils at the school”. In addition to all Tuesday’s fantastic activities, the pupils also welcomed County Councillor Cris Dowling to join in celebration.