Archive for the ‘Community orchards’ Category

Next members’ meeting:
Monday 15th May, 7.30pm, Union Chapel, Wellington Road, Fallowfield.

Mayor’s Challenge Fund  Development and Improvement Project.

We still have not received any official communication from Manchester Council, apart from the project being ‘downgraded’ .Information from the Manchester Walking and Cycling Forum on 14th March, which was attended by a couple of FotFL members, was:

‘Manchester Cycleway (the Fallowfield Loop) – The Safer Streets funded scheme has now commenced with some site clearance underway in the Yellow Brick Road area. Final designs are being prepared for other interventions that include improvements to access points, replacement/reinstatement of some fencing, removal of some barriers/blocks on path and resurfacing. It is expected that these works will be completed by Sept 2023.’

Tim Hollins, the Sustrans Network Development manager in the North West, says that two things that Sustrans are very keen for the Safer Streets Fund to achieve is to improve access barriers and for resurfacing along the two sections at Shillingford Road and from Withington Road to St Werburgh’s tram stop where there is tree root damage. They are currently discussing with MCC about what can be achieved using a mixture of Sustrans maintenance funds and the larger SSF pot. MCC would like the SSF pot to cover the Yellow Brick Road as well as the Floop so we will be asking Oliver Collins (SSF Project Manager) to mediate and make sure that there’s a fair spread of funding.

Safer Streets Funding – our possible input.

Frances McCann reports:

The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop have now linked up with the Safer Streets Funding development worker, Anna Smith. Anna has a 7 hour a week contract (until the end of 2023) to undertake community development work in relation to The Fallowfield Loop. She is making links with schools and community groups, doing promotion work and setting up Loop related activities.

The £453,000 Safer Streets funding is from the Home office.  This allocation  is managed through joint working of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester City Council. In relation to the Fallowfield Loop, Anna is also looking to make contact with Sustrans.

Ian Barker has, on behalf of The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop, sent a list of issues and concerns, particularly in connection to repairs and safety matters that need attention, to the GMCA officer, Oliver Collins, who has oversight of the project development. He has also shared this with Anna Smith.

We hope that Anna will be able to give an update of the work she has been doing for the July Newsletter, it is also hoped that she will be able to come as a guest speaker to the July meeting, Monday 17th July.

David Beetham memorial tree planting.

On the 15th April 40 cyclists took a ride round the orchards and ended up at Station South for tea and cakes. David Beethams’ relatives then ceremonially planted an apple tree in his memory in a large container on the corner of the station site.
Orchards projects.
The orchards are looking good at the moment, with a good crop of blossom on most of the trees. Over the next couple of months, the orchard group will be looking to remove ground level weed growth round the trees and larger encroaching vegetation such as brambles and self seeded willow branches.

If you are interested in helping with orchard work please contact Dick Venes via email: rjvenes@waitrose.com.

Quadrants workday

One recent workday Ian Barker’s group re-seeded a bald unofficial path from the Loop to the Station South site. This was the original route of the path which Ian managed to get relocated to preserve the large ‘performance’ area of grass on the north west ‘Quadrant’. Unfortunately we have had no recent contact from the ‘Handlebards’ group who have put on Shakespeare plays on the site in previous years, so if anyone has any ideas about possible arts performances there this coming summer please contact us.

Eddie Johnson talk.

Eddie Johnson, Hon President of the Friends, will be giving an illustrated talk about the Fallowfield Loop railway line on 26th June at the Union Chapel. Please book the date in your diaries – we will be sending out more details in due course.

Nature Walks

The April circular walk from Athol Road and back, via Hough End Fields and Red Lion Brook was well attended and a number of harder to spot birds were heard and seen. These included: willow warbler, blackcap, stock dove, greenfinch and bullfinch.

NB Due to the unavailabilty of walk leaders in May and June, the next walk will not be until July, when we hope to have Fungalpunk Dave return for another exciting Floop Safari !

The future of the Friends

As previously stated, currently we are operating with a soon to retire Chair, no Hon Secretary and a stand-in Hon Treasurer. Past appeals for members to volunteer for Officer positions have failed to attract anyone so far, so we are currently facing disbanding the Friends organisation at the next AGM. If this happens, our Constitution states that ‘ in the event of the dissolution of the Association, once all liabilities have been met, any money or property left over shall be transferred to such charitable organisations as members deem suitable.’ If you are interested in helping the Friends group continue in the future the time to volunteer is now!

If no volunteers come forward, we will likely formally disband the Friends at the September meeting, which will be our AGM. The Hon Treasurer is currently sitting on about £3,000 in our bank account and would like to spend it on something useful on the Loop rather than bequeath it to a related charity. So, if you have any ideas for suitable expenditure, please contact Dick at rjvenes@waitrose.com, or by phone to discuss on 0161 224 3843.

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Come and join us for a short ride along the Fallowfield Loop to visit and enjoy all the four orchards that David Beetham brought about, between 2012 and 2022. David was instrumental in their funding, planting and maintenance, which continued right up to the week he died, last July. Many of you will know the trees well, having helped plant them and maintain them yourselves over the years.

While the section of the Loop we’ll ride is just an 8 mile round trip (though you could extend your ride by pedalling to the ends of the Floop), we will be spending a few minutes in each orchard, to appreciate the fruit trees which should be starting to bloom at the Fallowfield, Debdale and Levenshulme sites.

We will also have time to enjoy a tea or coffee at the Station South cafe, where we’ll be able to chat and share memories with fellow riders. David’s daughter Helen will be with us on the ride, and other members of David’s family will either cycle with us or be in the cafe. If you would just like to meet up to chat, without cycling, that’s OK, but please let us know you’ll be there.

If you would like to come along, as places are limited, email cycling@SLHeatons.org and say how many adults and children are in your group. To help us plan, please can you do this by 8th April and use that email address if you need other information.

We’ll send further details to those who’ve booked, nearer the time, but we’ll meet at 1:15pm on the larger grass area at Levenshulme Quadrants that’s at the back of Station South and near to the Crayfield Rd entrance to the Floop, please see map. Note that some riders will be meeting in Heaton Chapel earlier and riding over to Station South to join us there.

Expect to be away around 4pm, though you might want to stay chatting at Station South for longer!

Attached are photos of David in the Levenshulme orchard, riders on the Loop near Slade Lane and fruit tree blossom.

Links to articles about David:  on the FotFL website,  Wikipedia and the Guardian.

Hope to hear from you Ian Barker,   Sustainable Living in the Heatons.  Friend of the Fallowfield Loop and Sustrans volunteer.

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Next members' meeting: Monday 20th March, 7.30pm, Union Chapel, Wellington Road, Fallowfield.

Sherwood Street hedge

We planted this hedge on 8th February 2015.  It was our second attempt after the first planting of small shrubs were accidentally mown down by Sustrans contractors!  Over the intervening eight years most of the double row of trees and shrubs round the Sherwood Street/Wellington Road corner and the single row by the fence on the left of the entrance have grown well. Ian Barker's work group gave the plants a good pruning workday on 2nd February.  Most of them were cut back well, but a few were deliberately left as taller specimens.

Update – Mayor's Challenge Fund Development and Improvement Project.

The latest news is that there has been no progress in acquiring further information about what might be planned for the Loop and (more likely) the 'Yellow Brick Road' from Debdale Park to the Ashton canal.  This is despite several FotFL members lobbying their councillors by email and visits to their surgeries.  Our Chair has been promised a report from Cllr Tracy Rawlins, the Council's Executive member for Environment and Transport, but this has yet to materialise.

On a related issue, it is reported by a member that the long promised work is about to start on improving the Yellow Brick Road. In particular, it may be that the steep junction where the Fallowfield Loop goes over the Yellow Brick Road at Debdale is going to be eased. If you pass this point please let us know of any progress!

Information from a Council Press Release dated Feb 26th:

 'The feedback from past surveys/consultations has been used to inform the Council's plans for using  £300,000 Safer Streets funding that include the following measures.'
    • Site clearance and landscaping
    • Access point improvements with new entry markers and illuminated bollards
    • New and replacement signs along the whole route, and linked to access point
    • New fences, guard rails and barriers.
Additionally, the funding will look at areas that need resurfacing prioritised such as where tree routes have caused the current surface to buckle/break up.

Orchard projects and workdays

Dick Venes reports that Ian Barker's Sustrans volunteers have had a very productive two months.  Together with personnel from the Orchard Project the newest orchard ('Chervil') trees were cleared of surrounding growth and pruned as necessary.  At another session at the Levenshulme 'Quadrants', the volunteers tidied round and weeded the Incredible Edible Levenshulme's raised beds and pruned most of the Levenshulme orchard apple and pear trees.  The group has also worked on the willow maze and overgrown vegetation in the Abbey Hey section of the Loop.
In addition, the remaining apple and pear trees in Levenshulme and those in the Fallowfield and Debdale orchards have also been pruned.  The soft fruit trees are earmarked for pruning in the summer, as they are more susceptible to fungal diseases at this time of year.
If you are interested in helping with orchard work please contact Dick Venes via email: rjvenes@waitrose.com.

Litter picking

Charles Kinniburgh reports:
    1. On 10th February, an enthusiastic group of parents, pupils and teachers from Cringle Brook Primary School joined in on a litter pick organised by the school.  They concentrated on the section of the Fallowfield Loop between Slade Lane and Lindleywood Road and retrieved an impressive 31 bags of litter in little more than an hour.  They were ably supported by Zoe from Keep Manchester Tidy who provided the equipment. Erica and I from FotFL/Sustrans assisted where we could.  If you have a child at a school near the Floop and are considering holding a similar event, feel free to contact me for advice.
    2. Alston Road, which crosses the Loop just past the Debdale Park exit, in particular was very littered. It is a popular route for school children and in its current state sends them the wrong message with regard to looking after the environment.  So we organised a litterpick on 2nd March and cleared the road up, plus the adjacent playing field. 

Tree work on the Loop

Some of you will have noticed tree work taking place along the Loop between Slade Lane and Levenshulme.  It has been pleasing to see that Sustrans put up some very useful signs about the work, so that Loop users were well informed about the reasons for the work.  This is particularly good as many people get rather agitated about tree loss.  In the past, environmental surveys of the Loop have highlighted the variety of habitats along the route, and self seeded tree removal and pruning helps this biodiversity.

Sign boards

At the Levenshulme quadrants work day, we 'broke in' to the heavily graffitied signboard and found that the Loop map under the plastic cover was in very good condition.  The signboard at the Debdale Park exit was recently cleaned up successfully with paint remover but several others, including Levenshulme, look to be beyond recovery.  We have measured the polycarbonate plastic cover at Leve and are looking to replace the really badly defaced covers at several other locations.

Nature News

The January and February Sunday walks saw 2023 off to a good start. Despite being a grey murky morning, the walk round the Gorton Reservoirs gave us a good count of bird species (28) both on and around the water. The February walk from Withington Road to Platt Brook,on a much brighter day,gave a count of 25 bird species and many signs of spring with hazel catkins showing and many trees and bushes in bud. A pair of long tailed tits were seen preparing to nest in the brambles.
A big thanks to Erica for tirelessly recording and counting all of our sightings over many months 😄!

The March walk will start at the Quadrants (Crayfield Road) at 10.30 on the 26th. A separate reminder will be emailed nearer the time.

The future of the Friends

Currently we are operating with a soon to retire Chair, no Hon Secretary and a stand in Hon Treasurer.  Past appeals for members to volunteer for Officer positions have failed to attract anyone so far, so we are currently facing disbanding the Friends organisation at the next AGM.  If this happens, our Constitution states that ' in the event of the dissolution of the Association, once all liabilities have been met, any money or property left over shall be transferred to such charitable organisations as members deem suitable.'

If you are interested in helping the Friends group continue in the future,the time to volunteer is now!

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Thursday Jan 12th

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Orchard Care Day

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David Beetham

We are very sad to report the death of David Beetham, Treasurer of the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop, and former Honorary Secretary and Chair, on Monday 4 July. David was a long-standing member of the Friends and a great driving force in his many years on the Committee, with many contributions as an officer and excellent understanding of grant applications. However, it was his initiatives in the funding, planting and maintenance of our community orchards in Levenshulme, Debdale, and Fallowfield which will be remembered as his outstanding contribution. In fact his last project with us was planting the Chervil orchard in Fallowfield, which we completed only in the last couple of months.

David Beetham

David had a very distinguished career as a Professor of Politics at Leeds University, published several books on political systems and was still in demand as a consultant on democracy in developing countries. He served as a local Labour party councillor in Manchester in his time and latterly was a member of the Green Party.
David will be greatly missed by the Friends. We will publish details of any funeral or memorial service arrangements when they are available.

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Earth Granny

Earth Granny

Around 100 people congregated just before sunset at the Quadrants in Levenshulme for this year’s wassail on Sunday 6th January.  After wassails in earlier years, then a break in 2018, the Friends decided to celebrate the orchard trees once again. New this year was the Earth Granny, in her pinny, declaiming “Wassail Wassail” – chanting her poem to bless the trees, their roots and the worms. Old Father Time made his usual appearance and the Choir with No Name sang three songs, wonderfully.

Attendees were offered cakes, mulled cider and apple juice, provided by Pam and Angelique and other helpers.  Brenda lent her gazebo and reusable cups. People brought food to share.  We made a ceremonial tour of the orchard to hang toast dipped in cider on the trees to ward off evil spirits and ensure good cropping; and the occasion was completed with a roaring bonfire looked after by Ian and Farooq.  A short firework display brought a sparkling end to proceedings!

Thanks to everyone from the local community who attended and contributed to the lively spirit of the event!

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Yesterday some of the Friends were out working in and around the community orchard at the Levenshulme Quadrants.  We were joined by members of the Sale and Altrincham Conservation Volunteers to help with building two willow arches, using willow harvested from the Loop.  Some weeding and general maintenance around the orchard trees was also done.  Meanwhile, Incredible Edible Levenshulme were also out, working on their raised beds of herbs and fruit.  Many thanks to all helpers!

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Another winter, another wassail today to celebrate the orchard at the Levenshulme Quadrants and wish it a healthy and flourishing year ahead!  As in the previous several years, there was a bonfire, choir-led singing, fireworks, mulled cider, the fixing of ribbons and cider-soaked toast to the fruit trees and the conjuring of a Wassail Queen!

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At dusk on Old Tweflth Night, Sunday 17th January 2016, a hardy band turned out to celebrate our annual wassail of the community orchard at the Quadrants, Levenshulme (Crayfield Road).  This was a postponed and scaled-down version of the originally planned event (due to very heavy rain on the initial date of Sunday 3rd January), but nevertheless there was mulled cider, home-made apple cake, a procession round the orchard fixing cider-soaked toast (lucky birds) and ribbons to the fruit trees, and a firework finale!  With added cheery involvement from several passers-by, we hope to have set the orchard fair for continued flourishing through 2016!

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