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The Wychwood Project
The Wychwood Project is an ambitious project which covers several counties and hundreds of thousands of acres (many of which are in the Cotswolds AONB) which intends to restore the once royal hunting forests of Henry VIII.
But, within this project numerous other groups are hard at work with each doing ‘its bit’ in the overall effort. One of these groups is the Friends of Wychwood Orchard Group. According to a recently completed survey, Oxfordshire alone had 1,533 acres of orchards in 1901 which boasted such rare species as the Blenheim Orange, the Eynsham Dumpling and the Oxford Sunset, to name but a few. Sadly, many of these orchards have been lost.
But the FoW Orchard Group is doing a great job in addressing this loss. Among other things it is active in establishing so-called ‘community orchards’ in co-operation with other interested groups. A community Orchard was created in Chipping Norton with the help of the Green Gym and another orchard has been established at Shipton-under-Wychwood. Others are sure to follow.
But a new initiative has taken hold – that of juicing. It is in this vein that the Friends of the Cotswolds have been involved with a grant of £500 for the acquisition of milling equipment and juicers. This was recently put to great use in Leafield when no fewer than 100 people turned up with apples of all sorts of species, shapes and sizes to be juiced using this equipment. Further pressings will be undertaken in other villages and over many years, thus saves great expense, while really getting the most out of the humble old apple.
Do take a look at www.wychwoodproject.org for more details. The Orchard group has its own entry under the ‘what we do’ banner and other interesting information is available in various issues of the Forest Update in the News section. Who knows you may well have an interest in establishing a community orchard or arranging for a pressing session!