Rainham Community Orchard
Rainham Community Orchard, Lower Rainham Road, junction with Bloors Lane
In July 2014 KWT Corporate Ambassador Hamish Mackay Miller, Publisher of The Net Magazine, recruited a band of volunteers to rescue five acres of overgrown apple orchard in Lower Rainham. They took advice from Marion Turner and John Bennett of KWT who came to a site meeting with the owner, Jimmy Zammit, an advertiser in The Net. Agreement was reached that the volunteers would run it both as a productive orchard and for the benefit of wildlife. Mr Zammit offered the land rent free with any profit made from the sale of apples to be donated to KWT. The volunteers set about clearing the head high nettles and thistles to give access to the fruit. Although a poor crop “Pick Your Own” days that year raised enough to pay the necessary public and employer’s liability insurances.
In November 2014 Neil Coombs from KWT gave the volunteers a tutorial on basic pruning and many hours were spent that winter on the first “rescue” prune. The success of this and the weed management in the summer resulted in over 2 tonnes of apples being sold at £1 a kilo on our PYO days and £1600 was donated to KWT. Neil returned for another tutorial in November 2015 and in 2016 the crop more than doubled. The extra apples were sent to Owletts Fruit Juice (a KWT corporate member) who turned it into 2800 litre bottles of juice which sell for £3.00 a bottle. It is a superb juice and many customers are requesting repeat orders. A number of outlets are selling it for us without taking a commission. See the list on www.thenet.uk.net. More outlets are needed. Could you help?
The PYO days have helped to involve the local community in the project and to recruit more volunteers. Visitors comment on the variety of birdsong compared with its dearth in a nearby commercial orchard. No spraying of any kind means there are plenty of insects for the birds. A heap of prunings left undisturbed has become home to stoats. See www.thenet.uk.net for contact details and a video of the PYO days