Get Involved‎ > ‎

Orchard Learning Programme and short courses

Orchard Learning Programme 2020
Course dates, outline & information
9-months from March-November, first Saturday of each month
The programme is designed for participants with some experience of growing tree fruit (e.g. apple, pear, plum).
It is ideal for anyone involved with a community orchard, as well as professional and home gardeners looking after more than a handful of different trees.
Course fee, £150, plus HOCO membership*, £25/£20

Apply using this link: or contact us for a pdf form, and with any questions.

Orchard Learning is a hands-on and holistic programme. Learning with others is practical and fun. Participants will gain experience, knowledge, skills, and confidence to care for fruit trees for years to come.

The Orchard Learning Programme guides participants through a growing season in an established community orchard. It begins as the soil is stirring, and trees, as well as pests and diseases, are waking up from dormancy. It follows the fruiting arc from blossom, pollination and fruit set, to development, ripening and harvest. During the course participants learn to tune in to, and be guided by, the characteristics and needs of individual trees of different ages, varieties, and conditions.




Saturday 7 March


Introduction to Horfield Organic Community Orchard

Meet your Tree Buddies

Saturday 4 April


Pruning (1) Dormant season

Apple and pear trees

Saturday 2 May


Soil Food Web

Feed, weed, mulch

Saturday 6 June


Healthy trees

Pests, diseases, disorders

Saturday 4 July


Pruning (2) Growing season

Plums and fruit thinning

Saturday 1 August


Pruning (3) Growing season

Apple, pear, and trained forms

Saturday 5 September


Harvest, storage and preservation;

Pruning review

Saturday 3 October


Diversity and resilience;

Pruning review

Saturday 7 November


Planning, planting & problem-solving;

Course review

Saturday 7 November - tbc

time tbc

End of programme Celebration meal


*Participants agree to be/become members of Horfield Organic Community Orchard, and can join as a Harvest-share or Friend member (more information about membership here). Members share responsibility for looking after a pioneering community orchard, and helping to organise successful community events.

Here's what participants say about the Orchard Learning Programme:

"A unique opportunity to share in the management of an orchard with a highly knowledgeable leader. Prepare for action! You'll learn a lot." Colin

"A wonderfully complete immersion in the year of the orchard." Rebecca

"Growing apples, pears and plums? If you want practical knowledge and valuable skills, then this is the place for you." Rob

"Shannon is a great teacher as well as being phenomenally knowledgeable about fruit growing. I can't think of a better way to learn than having hands-on experience of every form and variety of fruit tree." Mary

Get Growing Fruit Trees - an introduction

Sundays:  15 March, 17 May, 12 July, 13 September, 2pm-4.30pm

Course fee £65 (HOCO members*), £80 (non-members)

6 places                         No previous experience needed.

·      March - Know your trees, their care needs, site, and soil

·      May - Pests, diseases, disorders

·      July - Pruning - why and how

·      September - Harvest, storage & preservation

More new dates for 2020 coming soon

Get in touch if you want to be the first to hear about Pruning courses.
or contact us for a pdf form, and with any questions.

Orchard Learning short courses - 2019

Pruning Apple & Pear Trees in the Growing Season
Weekend workshop
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 July, 10am - 4pm

Pruning at the height of the growing season can help ripen the crop. It also brings good harvests in future years. Most trees older than 4 years thrive on a summer pruning system. It’s a proven method for shaping and managing trees in small spaces such as urban gardens and allotments.

This weekend workshop covers all aspects of pruning Apples and Pears in the summer months. Participants learn from, and work with, a range of trees of different varieties and ages growing in Horfield Organic Community Orchard. The course covers: pruning technique; training young trees; renewing fruiting wood on established free-standing and trained trees; renovation of older trees.

Course fee £75, £60* (HOCO members*)

Introduction to Pruning Apples & Pears
One-day course
Saturday 27 July, 10am - 4pm     This course is now fully booked
Hands-on introduction for absolute beginners. Participants will learn the basics of pruning while being guided as they work with real trees.

Course fee £50, £35* (HOCO members*)

or contact us for a pdf form, and with any questions.

Weekend Pruning Workshops

Three weekend workshops. Can be booked separately.

Course fee £60 (HOCO members*), £75 (non-members), each course.

8 places                         Some fruit growing experience needed.

Learn by doing, and gain hands-on experience and confidence to:

·      Form and train young trees

·      Renew established free-standing and trained trees

·      Restore old trees

Pruning - Dormant season Apple & pear trees

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 March, 10am-4pm

Pruning & Caring for Stone fruit trees - Plum, greengage, damson, apricot & cherry

Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 June, 10am-4pm

Pruning - Growing season – Apple & pear trees

Saturday 20 July & Sunday 21 July, 10am-4pm

Day courses

Growing season pruning of Apples & Pears – an introduction

Course fee £35 (HOCO members*), £50 (non-members)

6 places                         No previous experience needed

Saturday 27 July, 10am-4pm

Planning and caring for fruit grown in small spaces - an introduction

Course fee £30 (HOCO members*), £45 (non-members).

8 places            No previous experience needed            Saturday 27 April, 10am-4pm

Feedback from this course:
"Great day, very interesting and useful for someone starting out on their fruit growing journey."

Please apply for courses using this link:
Or contact us for a pdf form, and with any questions.

Pruning & caring for Stone fruit trees - Plum, Greengage, Damson, Apricot, Cherry
Weekend workshop
Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 June, 10am - 4pm This  course is no longer taking bookings

At their best, home-grown plums, gages and apricots are luscious orbs of heaven on earth. They are a world away from dry and disappointing shop-bought fruits. Caring for stone fruit trees is not the same as apples and pears, and many gardeners are confused by the differences.

This weekend workshop shows how to care for these most delicious fruits. Participants learn from, and work with, a range of trees of different varieties and ages growing in Horfield Organic Community Orchard. The course covers pruning and training, managing pests and diseases, and choosing what to grow.

Course fee £75, £60* (HOCO members*)

Horfield Orchard,
29 Nov 2018, 03:34
Horfield Orchard,
29 Nov 2018, 03:29
Horfield Orchard,
29 Nov 2018, 03:05