Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Volunteer Press Gangs at Butterfly Park

Liverpool John Moores Conservation Society. Photo: Paul Loughnane

I was once asked by an officer the Cheshire Wildlife Trust did I allow volunteers to take rest breaks, as if I was running press gangs! Well one recent weekend we had two press gangs. Firstly on Saturday Dave Elwand and the Wirral Tree Wardens and then on Sunday a press gang imported from Liverpool John Moores University Conservation Society.

Wirral Tree Wardens. Photo: Paul Loughnane

We were making use of the fallen apples from New Ferry Butterfly Park as well as apple donations from Burton Walled Garden, Upton Hall School Orchard, Brimstage Orchard and private gardens. Approximately 3.5 gallons of apple juice was produced with a mix of dessert and cooking apples for a sweet apple juice for Wirral Pomona to ferment into a cider. For fresh apple juice to drink crab apples were added to the mix to take away the sweetness. Some students asked why they should not eat the crab apples. I said “Take a bite and you will soon realize why!” A wincing face is a sure test it is a crab. With the team of eager students quartering, scratting and pressing apples it did not take much time at all to fill the press and they were all excited to see the juice rush out of the press as the apple mash was squashed.

After making the apple juice the students enjoyed sampling the juice alongside the BBQ put on for them. In fact the juice, BBQ, homemade cakes and tea gave some of the students’ energy to work on Embankment Coppice until 5pm in the afternoon, the longest a student group has ever stayed. We hope to entice them back again with an apr├Ęs task cider sometimes soon. Look after your volunteers and they will come back again, no press gangs required.

Paul Loughnane

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