Apple Picking and Participation

Two students picking apples

As the Walled Garden and Pleasure Ground Restoration project continues Ellie Jones, Project Manager, is always seeking new opportunities in which the local community can benefit from the project and Berrington’s grounds.

This year the Walled Garden and Pleasure Ground Restoration project is developing plans for a restoration of the historic space to a late Georgian design. As well as achieving this however, Project Manager, Ellie Jones, is seeking new opportunities to develop sustainable partnership working with local community groups; we want this historically significant site to not just be a beautiful garden but a creative space that is relevant and brings benefit to individuals and groups in the locality.

One of their many tasks was to transport the harvest around the grounds
Two of the students holding a crate of apples with 'LOOK!' behind them

It was with this aim in mind that Jones began talks with the Hereford College of Arts (a local college in Hereford). Their students thrive on using their creative talents to complete tasks to a high standard. From these talks a partnership has begun which combines the student’s talents with looking at new ways to develop the walled garden. 

On the 27 September 2017, a group of Level 2 Diploma Students came to Berrington to assist Nick Winney, Gardener-in-charge at Berrington Hall, with a series of garden tasks that needed to be completed in the orchard. The aim of this was to look at different and creative ways of engaging 16-25 year olds with the garden.

Here are some of the students enjoying the 'fruits of their labour'
A group of the Hereford College of Arts students holding apples

The Hereford College of Arts lecturers, Lucy Driver-Williams and Jacob Rock both noted that the challenge was taken on enthusiastically by the group of students. It is estimated that the work the students did in the garden equated to 25 hours or 3.5 days’ work of staff and volunteers time.

The tasks that were undertaken were; harvesting the apples from the orchard, collecting the windfalls and moving crates to the Potting Shed. Although these tasks sound simple they are both time-consuming and physically difficult. That said, by working in partnership and combining the talents of both the students and National Trust Staff, a lot was gained from the experience.

As well as the physical benefits, further creative benefits have come out of the partnership. The students have been given a design project for the term to design and offer creative ways to develop the curved section of the walled garden. Their ideas will then included in the consultation process of the project.  

It wasn’t just the College of Arts that benefited from the exercise by working as a team. It also offered a chance for the National Trust’s portfolio for Herefordshire to work together. Winney asked James Pearson, Gardener at Croft Castle, and Mikko Moran, Gardener at The Weir Garden, to come and offer support for the student’s second visit. Between them they devised activities based on the experience and requirements of the students. In this sense it was also a chance for the local National Trust property staff to learn alternative ways of working and understand how different volunteer groups require different approaches.  

This new partnership is not without its challenges, for example, the transport for the students is expensive. That said, through close collaboration with the college we have a unique opportunity to work together to find solutions to the issues that would normally prevent us from continuing with this fantastic scheme that will bring so much benefit to many.    

Exercises such as these allow for the younger generations to engage with these special places in the hope that their support will continue for years to come. We are looking forward to seeing how this partnership will develop and what the outcome will be.