Fifteen trees …. of different varieties that have originated in Oxfordshire and the neighbouring counties … have been planted in a field that lies at the edge of the school’s 50-acre campus.
The seed of the idea came from local villager Bill Crabtree who uses the field, known as Holly Tree Field, to graze his sheep.
Explains Andy Newbold, Director of Studies at Sibford and a keen horticulturalist: “Bill noticed that two apple trees that grew in the field had come to the end of their natural life. We talked about replacing them but the idea quickly took root so that in the end, rather than having a couple of new trees, we have instead created a whole new orchard.”
The apple trees have been supplied by Marcus Roberts, founder of the Mid Shires Orchard Group, whose daughter Abigail has recently joined the school. They have been sponsored by parents and staff together with Bill and his wife, Barbara. Each tree has been individually fenced to protect it from the grazing sheep, with the cost for this being covered by money raised from Sibford’s Clothing Bank (part of the school’s commitment to recycling).
“Children really enjoy growing and harvesting fruit, it gives them a real sense of connection and can be a very calming experience,” said Marcus, who supplies trees to the National Trust and other historic properties and who has also helped chef Raymond Blanc create his own heritage orchard. “I was delighted to be able to select and supply the trees and trust that the children will enjoy finding out more about the different varieties.”
The trees were planted by members of Sibford’s Year 10 and 11 horticultural class with the help of teacher Angy Bovill, Andy Newbold and members of the school’s grounds staff.
Bill Crabtree also came along to ensure that everything went to plan. He is pictured with some of the members of the planting team.
The following varieties have been planted in Sibford’s new orchard: Bampton Fairing (reputed to ripen in time for Bampton Fair); Broad-Eye Pippin (South Northants/North Oxfordshire.); Hunts Duke of Gloucester (Stratford-upon-Avon); Thorpe’s Peach (Brackley); Adam’s Pearmain (South Midlands); Eady’s Magnum (Northants); Charles Ross (Buckinghamshire); 2 x Ashmead’s Kernal (Gloucester/Stratford-upon-Avon); Hanwell Souring (Oxfordshire) Sergeant Peggy (Eynsham); North Aston Non Pariel (Oxfordshire); Deddington Pippin (Oxfordshire); Blenheim Orange (Oxfordshire); and Wolvercote Wonder (from Wolvercote village).