In the lull between the downpours, a ceremony was held today to celebrate the planting of four fruit trees which will bring new life to the Brighthelm garden. Two pear and two apple trees will offer a ray of sunshine in what’s been a tempestous winter, with the promise of blossom and fruit to come. Alex Mabbs, the new Minister at Brighthelm, blessed the trees to provide them with an extra boost as they face the winter elements.
The trees have been planted by the Brighthelm Community Garden Group, which was set up last spring to reclaim and rejuvenate the garden. Starting out with a couple of rather forlorn and overgrown flowerbeds, the group of local volunteers created a bountiful vegetable plot in 2013 and planted raspberries and strawberries in a raised bed next to a recycling bin. There are big plans for 2014. Besides the mini-orchard, the Group will be creating a wildflower bed, a wildlife hedge, and a new garden learning space in Brighthelm Pre-Schools playground.
The trees being planted this week have been carefully selected with advice from Brighton Permaculture Trust. The apple trees are both traditional Sussex varieties – Saltcote Pippin and Tinsley Quince. The pears are two English favourites – Concorde and Onward. They are being planted in a cordon, which means they will be trained to grow on a diagonal, and will be carefully pruned to maximise productivity.
Planting the trees this week was quite a challenge. Most of the work was done on Tuesday morning in the height of one of recent storms. “It was crazy out there”, said Geoff Barnard, a Brighthelm Trustee and one of the garden volunteers. “Everything was blowing around and the rain was sheeting down. But we wanted to make sure the trees were safely in.” Fortunately, expert guidance was on hand from Mara Crippa, Growing Officer at Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, and a community garden specialist.
The tree planting has been made possible with financial support from the St Peter’s and North Laine Community First initiative, which has provided a grant of £800 to cover Community Garden activities in 2014, plus contributions from the Brighthelm congregation and a “shake-a-welly-boot” fundraising drive last autumn.
Brighthelm Community Garden Group is always looking for new volunteers to come and help in the garden, and meets regularly at 10.30 on Thursdays. Everyone is welcome.
Geoff Barnard can be contacted on 07510 314397