Hatch End orchard blessed in wassailing ceremony

This Is Local London: Orchard blessed in wassailing ceremony Orchard blessed in wassailing ceremony

This was the scene during an ancient blessing ceremony at a community orchard.

Toast was hung from trees amid chanting, singing and music at the Diamond Community Orchard at Hatch End Playing Fields, in Uxbridge Road last night.

The ceremony, known as wassailing, takes place on the evening of Old Twelfth Night to ensure a good harvest in the coming year.

Russell Sutcliffe is part of the hoi polloi group, which aims to connect people with apple trees in their gardens with companies who can use them for cider, apple juice or chutneys.

He said: “This is all about making the most of local produce.

“There are a lot of people in Harrow doing their own thing with local produce and this project is about connecting them all together.

“I think people are surprised there is good produce grown around here and what can be achieved because they are so used to getting their food from the supermarket.

“A big part of this is about educating the community and trying to get young people involved and learning about where food comes from.

“In the future the dream is to make an actual commercial enterprise of what we produce but that is a long way off at the moment.”

The orchard was funded by a Capital Growth grant and was planted in spring 2012 and is part of the hoi polloi project to create a community orchard for Harrow.

The project has also secured funding for three restorative pruning sessions of the old orchard at Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Stanmore.

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