25 years of nourishing and flourishing

Hundreds of people braved ankle deep mud and icy winds to Wassail Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) on January 14.

The HOCO wassail involved traditional elements such as dipping branches in cider, offering toast and honey to the guardian spirits of the orchard, and making noise to wake up the trees from their slumbers. As well as the activities and entertainment, there was plenty of mulled juice and homemade cake for sale.

‘Waes hail’ is an Anglo Saxon greeting meaning good health or good fortune.

It has been 25 years since HOCO took root on some abandoned plots on the margins of the Golden Hill allotment site and it will be celebrating its silver anniversary in May.

Since 1998, volunteer members have looked after nearly a hundred fruiting trees and during this time HOCO has also developed as a place of learning and experiment for a resilient future.

HOCO learning coordinator Shannon Smith said: “We know that trees help us by mopping up carbon and cooling the air when it’s hot. Do we remember that trees in cities need our help too?

“Planting and caring for fruit trees reconnects us with a beautiful relationship between humans and orchard trees. It’s a bond that is many thousands of years old. As with any relationship – understanding, knowledge and good skills ensure nourishing and flourishing.”

HOCO is open to new Harvest-share members this year. Active members are partnered with a Tree Buddy (usually an apple tree), and get involved with

organising working meetings and events.

Ms Smith continued: “The call to plant more trees rings loud and true. If every garden in Bristol grew one or two fruit trees – our city would be transformed into a large urban orchard. Some of us are lucky to have older fruit trees in our garden or allotment – but we may not be sure how best to care for them.”

More information about membership and courses on the HOCO website: www.community-orchard.org.uk Contact: hocopips@gmail.com or phone 0117 373 1587