The Heathfield open day took place on 20 -21st September 2014
Stalls were operated by conservation groups and the local branch of amnesty international . I was tempted to buy some of the plants on sale for my other half but our success at keeping them healthy afterwards is not very high so declined to make a purchase!.
We were given a guided tour of the orchards and the gentleman gave an interesting talk on the variety of old english apple trees they had planted. The original varieties dated back to time of King Henry VIII . The area at the back of Heathfield was laid to waste for many years before a band of volunteers approached the council to takeover this plot of land and eventually turned it into today’s ecology centre.
We enjoyed tasting the apples , my favourite being the Blenheim orange , yes this is really an apple tree! There were also the american mothers and the pippins trees.
A number of ponds exists in the grounds populated by insects and water boatman. . The centre also has its own hives proving some delicious honey when in season. . A series of surface tunnels underneath the perimeter fence are an access route for the badgers and deer that frequent the area. A badger sett runs underground and at night the badgers appear near the picnic tables. No doubt helping themselves to a few goodies!
We saw the resident sheep led by Sam who is now four years old, but suffers from arthritis. Sadly the other sheep Wilf became ill suddenly and passed away at the grand old age of 14. The kindly farmer who originally provided the sheep immediately donated a new young sheep called Ben. He is still rather shy as he gets used to his new surroundings before meeting the public. The collection jar at the entrance to the centre was provided for donations to cover the cost of the recent vets bills in treating poor Wilf.
We enjoyed a cream tea and soft drinks afterwards and for a free event we all thought it was a good day out.
Well done to the volunteers as the ecology centre is well attended during its regular Sunday openings and is also used during the week by school visits particularly during the summer months. Before the summer break , four schools visited in one week in July.