Monday, 16 January 2012

A Trip To Common Farm

On Saturday morning at 6am we set of for the wilds of Somerset and the wonderful Common Farm, to give a workshop on Orchard Management. As we drove towards Stonehenge the sun began to climb and it became apparent just how hard the frost had been the previous night. Wiltshire was covered in a sheet of sparkling white and looked magical.
Arriving at Common Farm is always like arriving home-big hugs and tea and chat and then the realisation that actually this wasn't a social visit. Fabrizio and I walked the 7 acres of Common Farm, looking at the amazing old fruit trees and all the new ones that he has been so busy planting, and then the crew who were joining us began to arrive.
Before lunch we talked about pruning, pruned some of the younger of Common Farm's trees and discussed with people how a fruit tree should look and why. The concept that people hopefully left with is that the tree should be open enough to throw a hat through, which Fabrizio demonstrated with great aplomb.
Then we had lunch which was an amazing mutton stew, the recipe for which is on the blog at along with amazing local cheeses and a cheese and onion tart and Georgie's world renowned buns.
After lunch we talked about training fruit and planted and began to train a 20m wall of John Downie crab apples into beautiful espaliers. And the lesson I hope everyone took from this is that the secret of success when it comes to training fruit is that you must be in charge of it, not it in charge of you!
Malus John Downie in flower

Malus John Downie in fruit
Finally we burnt a wicker man and had a small wassailling session in the orchard which was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

For more information about courses and workshops at Common Farm please visit their website at


  1. Thanks for sharing! Lovely to read the succinct version of the day - I have had it in much detail as you might imagine! x

  2. The Wicker Man is a great film - sounds like you had such a good day.