Oct 18 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
SWEET freshly pressed fruit juice was enjoyed by families who attended an apple celebration in the weekend’s crisp sunshine.
Locals took along their harvested fruit to be crushed and pulped at the apple day organised at Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Old Redding, Harrow Weald, on Sunday.
Russell Sutcliffe, organiser of community orchard project Hoi Polloi – which encourages the harvesting and sharing of fruit – said: “It went very well. Several people brought along their apples for pressing and tasting, and one woman brought along her children to show them where apple juice really comes from.
“We had a cake stall selling cakes filled with Pinner apples and a chutney stall selling chutneys made with local apples, and we had the Merrydowners morris dancers performing.
“The Harrow Nature Conservation Forum were there promoting the welfare of the Lady Gilbert Orchard, the orchard that the wife of dramatist WS Gilbert, who lived in Grims Dyke, planted.”
Mr Sutcliffe said he was particularly pleased to see so many visitors arrive with apples, because the harvest has been particularly poor this year.
“It’s a lack of pollination,” he added. “The bad weather has stopped the bees getting out. Some people who came along got a reasonable crop this year, but most people said they’d had tonnes of apples last year but only a few this year.”
Mr Sutcliffe hopes a wassail – an ancient apple tree blessing ceremony designed to ensure a good cider crop – could be organised soon at the new community orchard in Hatch End Playing Fields.
“They’re only saplings, so we can only caress them gently,” he said. “It will be two or three years before they bear fruit.”