A Bastion of Biodiversity is what is on offer in the grounds of St Augustine’s Priory. This Ealing Catholic independent day school for girls is utilising all that its 13 acres of grounds have to offer. Alongside their farm and allotment, they are proud that they are the custodians of an orchard containing over 20 fruit trees, from which they produce their very own apple juice.
A representative from the Heritage Fruit Tree Company recently paid a visit to the school to give advice on how to manage the apple and pear trees in the orchard and also to try to identify the different varieties. With an orchard containing trees that are over one hundred years old the school was interested to learn that old orchards were very carefully planned, with attention given to providing a mix of varieties of fruit to ensure there is a supply of ripe fruit for as much of the year as possible. The school also learned that each variety of tree was planted in relation to others to maximise pollination and exposure to sunlight whilst sheltering them from the prevailing winds. For example, one of the pear tree varieties at St Augustine’s Priory is a Bellissime d’Hiver which can be picked in October and stored for ripening right through until March.
Staff at St Augustine’s Priory have been able to identify some varieties. They have Granny Smiths, Bramley’s Seedling, Howgate Wonder and Lord Derby apple trees and the representative from the Heritage Fruit Tree company has taken samples of others to aid in identification and all at St Augustine’s Priory look forward to hearing the results.
The production of apple juice is going well at the school with the pressing, crushing and pasteurising equipment donated by the Parents’ Committee really coming into its own. With such a bumper crop of apples this year apple juice will be provided for many weeks to come.
In addition, the many trees in the grounds at St Augustine’s Priory provide wonderful sets of lungs, not only for the school, but for Ealing. Considering that the grounds border the North Circular Road, the orchard at St Augustine’s Priory boasts an expanse of lichen, a sign of a healthy environment for their pupils and clean air for all.
Published: 10 October 2019