All hail the Wassail at community orchard

Juice mulling pans at Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) are being scrubbed up after a three-year wait for the  Wassail.

‘Waes hail’ is an Anglo Saxon greeting meaning good health or good fortune. Apples, for eating and cidering, were a huge part of the local food economy up until the mid-20th century. Traditions of gatherings to wake up the trees were celebrated wherever orchards grew.

The HOCO event takes place on Saturday 14 January, 2-4pm.

Shannon Smith, one of the organisers said: “It’s 25 years since HOCO took root on some abandoned plots on the margins of the Golden Hill allotment site. 

“The HOCO Wassail includes traditional elements like dipping branches in cider, offering toast and honey to the guardian spirits of the orchard, and making a big noise to wake up the trees from their slumbers. It’s become an amazing mid-winter community celebration with hundreds of people. We look forward to welcoming everyone, and will have plenty of mulled juice and homemade cake for sale.”

HOCO is also open to new members in the New Year. The group has ambitious plans to ensure the orchard is sustained for the next 25 years. These include projects to improve access to water, and funding a part-time co-ordinator role. Growing the number of supporting Friends members will help make them happen.

If you are interested in becoming an active member of HOCO, then get in touch for information about this year’s Orchard Learning courses. “It’s only when we start caring for fruit trees that we find out how much we need to learn,” says Shannon. “Climate chaos makes this even more clear, and active members enjoy plenty of opportunities for hands-on problem solving!”

To find the orchard (nearest postcode BS7 8JP) – Walk down the lane beside 22 Kings Drive (between Bishop Road & Kellaway Avenue), turn left and it’s the first gate on the right or  take the lane beside 134 Longmead Avenue (BS7 8QQ) until you come to the last gate on the left.

Contact HOCO c/o the website to sign up for up-to-date information:

Phone: 0117 373 1587