Apples abound this year it seems. Certainly there has been a bumper crop on my apple tree and those of neighbours. I was delighted to hear about a new local community-minded venture in Seamer and went along at the weekend with a few kilos of windfalls to an apple pressing day at Seamer Fayre. This farm butchery has invested in some new kit to turn unwanted apples to juice and cider, inviting local people with an excess of fruitfulness to take their apples along in exchange for a share of the juice – or an option on some cider in the near future.
They have done two public pressing days, one in September and the latest in October, receiving bucketfuls of aromatic apples from local people and demonstrating the pressing operation. The apples are passed through a special mill to crush them, then loaded into a cylindrical press which uses a bladder inflated by mains water pressure to squeeze out the juice. Waste pulp is fed to their livestock or composted.
This is just the sort of initiative I love to hear about, diversifying a farm enterprise and engaging with the local community at the same time. Maybe it will spearhead a revival in interest in orchards, apple-growing and perhaps the planting of new community orchards in the future. Meanwhile if like me you have any apples you are at a loss what to do with a further pressing day has been arranged for Sun 10th Nov.
May 2013 sees the deadline for a Heritage Lottery Bid by a new partnership of organisations in the eastern Vale of Pickering. This will be for an ambitious project known as ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’, centred on the Carrs of the Hertford and Derwent near Scarborough. Over twenty organisations are looking to team up for a £2million five-year programme of projects which will see real benefits for the heritage, for communities and for people in this overlooked landscape.
As part of the final preparations for our Landscape Partnership Scheme Stage One bid we hosted a site visit for two development officers from Yorks and Humber HLF. We set out to explain the subtleties of the Vale’s natural assets and cultural heritage, the little-appreciated threats it faces and most of all the tremendous opportunities posed by the fortuitous alignment of diverse public / private development plans and community aspirations. Not a lot to ask in a day’s tour round an area of over 100 square kilometres, 24 communities and some 20-30,000 people!
As I write I am still reeling from masterminding the packed itinerary today for the two staff from Heritage Lottery Fund. I think the march up the Seamer Carr landfill, with panoramic views over Star Carr and ‘Palaeolake Flixton’ was an inspiring start. What a contrast to clamber past the waste stacks and earth-movers to the summit of this artificial hill and experience the unique panoramic vista which this restored site could afford; and to have an expert archaeologist from the Star Carr dig team to explain the landscape history and significance was just spot on.
Over twenty people were involved in the day, either part of the entourage or posted at various way-points on the tour, to impress upon them the rare and hidden qualities of the Vale of Pickering landscape. From Seamer Carr we went through Eastfield for The Dell LNR and glimpse of Middle Deepdale development, followed by Folkton Bridge to see the River Hertford, the dramatic peat shrinkage and experience the open vistas of The Carrs before adjourning for lunch at Betton Farm visitor centre, by way of a driving tour of Folkton, Flixton, Seamer and East Ayton. Thar worked up an appetite!
After lunch we took a walk round Betton Farm’s geological SSSI quarry with its Jurassic coral reefs and sea urchin fossils. Our geology explained the rocks while warm sunshine brought out peacock butterflies and skittering hunting spiders over the violets and cowslips on the quarry floor. Another quarry lay in store for the final tour, the gravel workings on Wykeham Estate, with partners from Hanson’s aggregates and Wykeham Estate explaining the long term restoration plans and from Natural Retreats company enthusing about the high-spec sustainable tourism development they are working on with in a restored part of the workings. It was great to see so many key partners in the bid come together and share their passion and vision for Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale.
Last week we held our first Heritage Roadshow event at Staxton for communities around The Scarborough Carrs. It was extremely successful with over 200 people passing through with their wares and tales of old. Among the finds brought in were a Quernstone (for grinding corn by hand), musket balls, a piece of 19th C horseshoe pot (land drainage pipe), a drawerful of prehistoric flints and bone and an old shop ledger with news paper clippings from the time. People also got the chance to learn more about their area as they talked to the North East Yorkshire Geology Trust, Scarborough Field Naturalists, Scarborough Archaeological and History Society and many other groups which attended. Lots of tea and cake was happily consumed whilst people filled in The Carrs consultation survey (which is still available to complete here). We gained a lot of information about the area which we are still processing now…thank you to everyone that came along and made it such an interesting and enjoyable event!
If you live in the Vale of Pickering please come along and share what the landscape means to you along with and old stories you may have about the area. You can also bring along any artefacts or photos you have to share. There will be experts there to see what you have brought and local groups with displays about the landscape, history and wildlife of the area. As part of the Lottery fund bid we are trying to build evidence about the area so would really appreciate anything you have to share.