David Bettiss and Tricia Hall presenting a cheque for £600 to Caroline Roberts-Quigley Head of Fund Raising at Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice. This money was raised from the sale of Christmas cards, calendars and painted pebbles designed and painted by Tricia.
On a beautiful sunny, but cold February morning 30 volunteers met at the Glebelands Recreation Ground in Ferring with spades at the ready to plant our first Community Orchard. The orchard consists of 19 trees including 13 apple trees (all Sussex heritage varieties such as Tinsley Quince, Egremont and Alfriston), plus 2 pears, 2 plums and 2 cherry trees. On hand to give expert advice was John Coote from the Brighton Permaculture Trust. John generously gave his time and expertise to ensure the correct planting of the trees by some novice volunteers.
This orchard was supported by Ferring Parish Council in the form of a grant they awarded to the project. In addition Arun District Council gave their permission as the landowner. Thanks also go to Community Parks Officer, Martyn Burkinshaw; Malcolm Linfield, the manager of Ferring Country Centre, along with Jamie and Andrew from the Centre who joined 26 members of Ferring Conservation Group in the planting of the trees.
David Bettiss, Chairman of Ferring Conservation group said “The Ferring Community Orchard is a great example of the local community coming together to provide an excellent addition to the village scene. It will improve the biodiversity in the area. It will provide fruit in years to come and will be an area of interest for local people and visitors. I am very grateful to our individual members who have paid for the trees, in many cases as tributes to loved ones no longer here, and all the partners we have worked with closely to make the project a reality. I am very pleased to finally see all the trees planted and hopefully the orchard develop into the future”.
Community Orchards are a government initiative that helps communities to make the most of their local green spaces. Orchards were once widespread throughout the British Isles and until recent times every farm, country house and suburban garden had its own fruit trees. Pressure on land for new houses and roads and the importation of cheap fruit from abroad has caused the loss of many of these small orchards. The acreage of commercial orchards has declined rapidly too. Community Orchards help to revive an interest in fruit growing and provide a way of sharing knowledge and horticultural skills and stimulate us into growing food for ourselves again.
24 members met by the beach huts for an extra beach clean following stormy weather with high tides. A lot of wood had been deposited on the beach togather with plastic buoys and old lobster pots. It was extremely windy making it difficult to pick up tiny bits of paper and plastic so we concentrated on the larger objects. Sue and Tony Palmer did sterling service dragging the trolley which was piled high with rubbish.
Several of the plastic buoys were covered in Goose Barnacles, strange relatives of the prawn and crab family, the Crustacea. They start life as little shrimp-like creatures which then attach themselves to floating objects like wood, plastic or the bottoms of boats. Here they develop into stationary filter-feeders with white shiny plates covering their bodies which hang from a stalk. We even found a plastic water bottle with Goose Barnacles growing out of it, looking like a strange bunch of flowers! In fact the bottle would have been floating upsidedown with the Barnacles hanging underneath.
Tricia Hall, on behalf of the committee, thanked Jenny Grixti and Sue Palmer for organising the event and she thanked so many members for turning out on such a wild and windy day. Four more beach cleans are planned for the summer.
At 0945 on Tuesday morning it was grey, damp and chilly and it didn’t
bode well for our planned walk to Michelgrove lane but by the time the
seven of us had assembled under the trees near Michelgrove House and set
off, the skies gradually cleared so by 1100 it was near cloudless and
We soon saw one of our target birds, a Red Kite, wheeling over the
countryside to the east and it was later joined by a second.
Continuing up the Lane into the Angmering Park Estate we crossed a stile
on to springy downland grass with the sound of Skylarks above us and
soon after the croaking call of Ravens. A pair were having a tussle with
two Buzzards. Up to five of the latter were later in the air together
over Blackpatch Hill.
In or near the leftovers of a maize crop, about 15 Yellowhammers, 30
Chaffinches, two Meadow Pipits, eight Red-legged Partridges and several
Pheasants all showed well in the bright light. Nearby, a Corn Bunting
sat singing on a fence only a few yards from us.
We descended through a wood on the eastern slope of Harrow Hill in warm
sunshine along a steep and rather sticky path emerging in a valley with
a horse training gallop in the bottom (unoccupied). Another distant Kite
was over the South Downs Way.
Gulls and Rooks were abundant on the last leg across the field back to
the road and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen when we returned to the
In all, some 26 species of birds were noted – better than expected when
we had set forth from Ferring!