Villagers Reap Rewards at Apple Day Bonanza

Villagers reaped the rewards of a bumper apple crop when the fruit was crushed into drinkable juice at the first Long Wittenham Apple Day event.

Organized by the Wittenham Warriors charity fund raising group Apple Day attracted more than 200 people to the Sylva Foundation’s Wood Centre.

The event on 8th October also launched the Community Orchard which will contain 55 fruit and nut trees. The orchard is part of a grander scheme being developed by the Sylva Foundation to create a new forest with more than 30 different species such as oak, beech, birch and lime.

Villagers brought more than 720 kilos of apples for processing in the apple mill which filled 360 wine bottles. Crushed apples were then put into the apple press which combined with high pressure water was pressed to produce juice. Vitamin C was added to prevent apples browning.

The juice was then bottled and capped and placed into the pasteuriser where it was heated to at least 70c and held at that temperature for 20 minutes to kill off any bacteria. The process gives the juice a shelf life up to 18 months.

The event kicked off with children dressed as apples or in apple inspired costumes parading around the centre. There was a Golden Apple treasurer hunt and games.

For those “Bake Off”- inspired visitors there was an apple pie competition. Anne Walsh won the adults competition. Georgie Newman was voted top of the teenagers’ category and Lucas Clamp’s entry was judged best in the children’s section.

There was a chance too for the children to demonstrate their country dancing skills following a series of rehearsals in the village hall. It was not long before adults joined in for a twirl in the “Strictly Come Country Dancing” event. They danced to the music of Diana Wright on the piano accordion, John Wright (ukulele) and Bob Edwards who played the fiddle.

Women members of Wittenham Warriors and the women’s cricket team entered into the spirit by raising funds to commission an English oak bench which is located in the community orchard. The bench was made by Rodas Irving of Oxford Oak, who works out of the Wood Centre.

Each year the Warriors have set aside funds for local future projects and it was decided to invest in an apple press and pasteurising equipment. It’s hoped it will provide a useful service to the village and raise more funds for future projects.

The stumbling block was finding somewhere or someone to store the equipment.  Dr. Gabriel Hemery, the head of the Sylva Foundation, offered to store the equipment at the Wood Centre and host the Apple Day celebrations.

Sally Duff from Wittenham Warriors said: “It was a great day for everyone. We were very pleased with the public’s support for what we hope will become an annual event in the village calendar. We are grateful to Dr. Gabriel Hemery and the Sylva Foundation for hosting the event and agreeing to store our equipment.”

“Community Apple Days have become very popular in recent years. It gives people the opportunity to use apples that would otherwise go to waste. If you have enough apples you can enjoy the juice through to the next year.”

Wittenham Warriors were formed in 2005 with the sole aim of putting the FUN in fundraising and during the last eleven years have raised over £50,000 for various local and national organisations including support for an international orphanage charity in India.

*More details about Wittenham Warriors and the Apple Day event from Sally Duff at: richsal2000@yahoo.co.uk

**For information about becoming a crop shareholder in the community orchard and the new forest contact the Sylva Foundation Wood Centre or email info@sylva.org.uk

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