On Sunday 4th December the Tees Valley Wild Green Places Project joined forces with the Crooksbarn and Station Road residents associations to plant a mini community Orchard at Tinkers Yard in Norton.
As you can see form the photographs we had a great day, with 78 people taking part. As well as planting the fruit trees, volunteers planted wild flowers (red campion, primrose, selfheal and St John’s wort) around the trees.
Folk also enjoyed sampling thirteen different varieties of apples that we had found in supermarkets and the orchards at Larchfield and the former Nature’s World site in Middlesbrough. They varied a lot in size, colour, shape, texture and taste. Many families made bird feeders from windfall apples for their gardens and the children made badges and wooden pendants.
Apple themed refreshments included apple gingerbread, apple spiced muffins, apple curd on scones and various apple chutneys to accompany cheese and crackers. Being a December morning the hot mulled apple juice was popular!
In Victorian times there were a number of small commercial orchards in Norton that supplied fruit- mainly apples to the growing towns of Teesside and Darlington. These are clearly marked on old OS maps of 1857 but they had all disappeared by the 1914 OS Map.
Copies of maps can be down loaded here os-maps-showing-Norton-orchards-compared-to-modern-maps.
Tinkers Yard was once a brick yard and we certainly saw a lot of evidence of this digging holes for the trees. There was a thick layer of bricks below the subsoil. We were pleased to have a lot of determining volunteers to help dig. The trees were purchased with funding through the Tees Valley Wild Green Places Project and purchased from the specialist fruit and rose nursery – R V Rogers of Pickering.
We are grateful to Middlesbrough Environment City, Larchfield, Martin Allen and Rogers Nursery for all the information and advice they provided on apple varieties and historical information on Orchards in the Tees Valley. Here is an information sheet on all the species that were planted information-on-apples-tinkers-yard-nov-2016.
We are planning an information panel about the fruit trees and the orchard growing heritage of the local area.
Sue Antrobus, Wild Places Manger says “It was a fabulous day, the two residents groups worked so hard in ensuring the event ran smoothly. It was brilliant to have so people of all ages working together and enjoying themselves the atmosphere was really friendly and lively.”
Paul Card of Crookbarn Residents association said “Thank you to everyone for your help in bringing our community together and we look forward to seeing the fruits of labour (pun intended!) in the years to come”.
Andrée from the Station Road Residents Association said “A fantastic turnout from local residents, and it was great to see people of all ages participating. I heard lots of positive feedback and people are looking forward to attending the next nature / community event in Tinkers Yard next year. A number of people asked for your recipes for the spicy apple pickle, muffins and ginger cake so could you email those or upload on to your community facebook page when you get chance to?”.
In response to Andrée’s request here is the link to the two books that the recipes were taken from, and the recipe for the spiced apple.
The Apple Cookbook (it has savoury recipes as well).
Muffins Fast and Fantastic (great for giving kids a healthy treat, and all so easy).
The apple punch is simply 4 parts apple juice (clear not cloudy type) to 1 part water. Add 2 oz brown sugar, chopped lemon or lime or both, a whole cinnamon stick, (not powder) 5 whole cloves and if liked a grating of fresh ginger. Bring to boil, simmer for 10 minutes and strain through sieve (hopefully without making a stick mess in the kitchen).