The Wokingham Paper

Winnersh residents invited to Wassail ceremony to restore community orchard

The Arbor Meadows Restoration Project hopes to restore the community orchard planted 11 years ago.

A COMMUNITY orchard planted nine years ago has fallen short of its planned use, after falling victim to vandalism.

Hoping to restore Winnersh Meadows to its former glory, a volunteer project has been set-up to improve the orchard.

In 2011, the Winnersh Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) spent approximately £100,000 on the 10-hectare site. They planted 50 trees including apple, pear, plum, cherry, quince, medlar and walnut — all native to Berkshire.

The original project cost £100,000.

The original project was funded by the Lottery and parish and borough councils. 

Amrita Reddy, leading the Arbor Meadows Restoration Project is looking for local residents to join her in a clear-up of the site.

Ms Reddy says that over the years, the meadow has been neglected. 

The project hopes to restore the orchard.

Proposed work includes pruning and fixing damage to the 50 trees planted as part of the orchard, as well as mowing grass, putting down heavy cardboard and wood chips.

Volunteers are invited to a Wassail ceremony — an Anglo-Saxon tradition where music and dancing is used to bless the orchard and ensure a good harvest — on Saturday, February 29. 

The Ellington Morris group will join Ms Reddy and those interested in the project for the ceremony, which will begin at 2pm.

It is hoped the ceremony will be a place for volunteers to meet and plan the orchard restoration. 

There will be a toast — with community pressed apple juice — to a successful project ahead. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups. 

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