Moyna Hargest writes about her fruity antics at Claver Hill Community Food Project in Lancaster.

The joy of being a member of Claver Hill Community Garden is that there are so many tasks to take part in you can decide which ones you prefer. For me it’s fruit.
I’ve learnt how to graft apple trees and have produced new trees from heritage apple varieties. Members of Claver are also members of the South Lakeland Orchard Group (SLOG). We have planted 20 heritage apple trees locally, mainly at Claver to create a small community orchard. Many heritage varieties of apple are endangered as 90% of orchards have been removed since the 1950’s. Some of the apples have amazing names eg.Pig’s Nose and Bloody Ploughman (deep red in colour, of course). Apple trees also provide an environment that supports insects, wild flowers, and butterflies (amongst other things).
Near to Claver there is an abandoned orchard which, together with other Claver members, we are taking care of. We prune the trees and fruit bushes; take cuttings to propagate new fruit bushes; harvest and share the fruit and make jams and chutneys with the fruit that would otherwise be left to rot.
While I enjoy making jam, marmalade, and chutneys, my favourite activity is making cider. I started making it 5 years ago as I have a prolific tree in my garden and have since widened the varieties of apples. My cider is now sold to raise funds for the running of the community garden.
This year our usual local apple pressing events were few and no longer took place as a communal activity in a farmyard somewhere in the Lyth Valley. Instead I took my small mechanical scratter and apple press to Claver for a socially distanced day of pressing apples for members. (A scratter is rather like a large mincer for chopping up the apples before they are then pressed for juice). The juice is then collected and either pasteurised for apple juice (it tastes wonderful straight from the press) or fermented for cider. (If it is not pasteurized it will soon begin to ferment. Also, if not kept at a high enough temperature for long enough, even pasteurised apple juice ferments!)
This year I’ve begun experimenting with flavoured cider as we had a glut of blackcurrants. I’ve also had a go at cherry cider too. Next year will see if they worked!
If you’re interested in finding out what Claver Hill produce is available to buy online, you can sign up for our newsletter by emailing Sami at samagitaphonecoop.coop

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