2019 has been another very busy year in the orchard of continued growth within the group and the preservation of varieties. This term in office was kicked off with a very successful weekend at the State Rose & Garden show at Werribee Park with another record set from the profits made form sales at the show, thanks to the hard work and dedication from volunteers wishing the nursery growing on trees, and edibles for the event. We celebrated Christmas in the orchard on a lovely day enjoying one another’s company and devouring a delicious array of food. The new year saw the orchard picking more fruit than any other and had many varieties catalogued into our records enabling us to circulate more heritage varieties. The summer always brings with it challenges for us regarding watering and this year was no different we are still needing a better solution to the one in place regarding the pump being run on fuel. Work continued throughout the year on netting the rows and has been delayed by a question by Heritage Victoria on pegging to which we have responded with a map displaying what is in place and what is intended, we are currently awaiting the result of an investigation as to what is allowed and what is not.
The Summer grafting day was attended by a smaller than anticipated attendance yet figures on sales remained high. The consensus was that pre grafted trees continued to be a great draw card and factored high in sales. Further stone fruit varieties were sourced through the grafting day to add to the orchard for future scion sales.
In keeping with our organic path and striving to eradicate the use of glyphosate in the orchard we had a trial of steam weed eradication conducted at the orchard with Parks Victoria sparking their interest. We submitted an invitation for Parks Victoria to either purchase one for their own use or partner the orchard in the purchase, but this was rejected due to budget constraints with the price.
The committee is looking at the purchase of a steam solution for use within the orchard through a public grant when one arises. Work continues to keep the weeds down by volunteers and Parks Vic is still being sprayed weeds infrequently with glyphosate until we have a solution in place, we are now trialling some weed matting on the first couple or rows in the interim. The winter grafting day was changed to the Heritage Fruit tree Festival, which attracted over 4,500 people to the most successful event we have held to date. The event had many different traders from food vendors to cutting board makers, and a live band that played folk music it added a great feel and sound to the event. The information tent needing more staff at it and being flat out all day was testament to how well these books work that Christine has been putting together. So a very big thank you Christine for the work you have put into them. The Nursery sales went through the roof and was nearly cleaned out so it was all hands on deck again with a busy grafting season ahead. The Nursery is now restocked with freshly grafted trees and the signs are looking good with the majority of it having taken and well on the way to be grown on for the next event.
We have procured scion for cherry, Nashi, and quince from the Orange Research Station in NSW which is destined to be bull dozed in the coming years this adds to our diversity and strengthens our Heritage varieties.
The orchard has seen the removal of all apples due to mosaic virus this so they can be replaced with varieties that are not infected, this is a long term solution to what is fast becoming a problem sourcing scion. This year due to drought in Gippsland trees had not put on any new growth so we were unable to rely on this region for scion. We were lucky to have been allowed to source scion from a property in Apollo bay from owner Tony Webber and his wife Lyn so they saved the day. On that note can I personally thank the crew that helped on a trip to cut and collect scion at Tony and Lynns Apollo bay property, (Christine, Scott, Kaye, and Ralph) all worked very hard under extreme weather and topographical conditions.
One of the tenants of the homestead and farm area Nature West who’s was headed up by Colleen Miller has sadly moved on and is no longer here with us at the park, we thank Colleen for her work with the Karen community and the gardens and the support she has given is over the years. As a result we will be taking care of the Karen Community and assisting them with support and help when needed in Colleens absence. Scott is already making in roads in getting that under control and the committee will consider a name change from Werribee Park Heritage Orchard to also include “& community gardens”. We have historically always had a partnership of sorts with them and this will strengthen that partnership.
I have a lot of people to thank for their help this year. Firstly I would like to thank the volunteers as a whole for the work and dedication they display each Friday and amongst them people that have led the charge on weeding, netting irrigation, mulching, fruit picking and cataloguing and I am sure I have probably missed some but they all know who they are, a very big thank you to you this makes my job easier as I cannot be in all places so it is imperative that I have people like you on my side and I am very grateful for your support. Scott as always a very special men toon to you whilst I cannot wrangle you for any dedicated role on committee you have again assisted me above and beyond again this so thank you.
The Vice President of this outfit Christine I don’t know what I would have done without your help this year? As the organisation grows so do the tasks behind the scenes so you have helped me and the group so much it is hard to comprehend where or how you find the time so a huge thank you.
The Secretary Tarius you are another that has worked tirelessly this year without your help we would fall over as a group with all of the behind the scenes work you do organising permits, replying to correspondence, organising traders and the grafting day and all that comes with it, and this year of all years with our biggest event yet your weren’t here, but you might as well have been as the day ran like clockwork due to the work you had put in prior to you going overseas, you have done a fine job that I am sure must feel thankless at times. I assure you that you are a very valued member of the orchard and we are in awe of all you do so again thank you.
The Treasurer Enzo where do I start? I have never known anyone like you, just when you think you can do deals with companies, you come along and blow that out of the water with amazing deals, money saved, and I thank you for all you do behind the scenes also, your running around picking up gear we need at the orchard, and doing deals, talking to people and recruiting traders to attend our events is a very valuable contribution and it helps us enormously to our end result, our bank account to which you manage very diligently so a great big thank you to you.
The grafting day Committee also deserves a note worthy mention, work done behind the scenes has been incredible not to mention the running on the day in the absence of the organiser Tarius the day was very successful and seemingly ran like clockwork. Also a big thanks to Lisa Field whom joined us this year and helped immensely getting info signs put up throughout the community and fliers done etc
Another unsung hero in our group often is the Warringal school teachers and students who have been a very valuable asset indeed helping in the Nursery and assisting us in our endeavors so a very big thank you.
I would also like to thank Parks Victoria at Werribee Park, Namely James, Adam and particularly Hsar who has taken on the role Adam used to do for us and Hsar is doing a fine job looking after us and assisting when ever we need it.
To the general committee thank you for all of your support throughout this year and I welcome the new members it is great to see new faces. I end this term of office knowing we have delivered a very healthy heritage orchard with a bright productive future to come and look forward to an even more productive 2020.
Craig Castree President