Mulled cider was poured over the roots of an apple tree in Astral park Community Orchard to ensure a good crop for this year’s harvest,
It was part of a traditional mid-winter Wassailing ceremony which was attended by an enthusiastic crowd who braved the cold wet weather.
Both adults and children warmed up singing Wassail songs before the actual ceremony took place.
In addition to the mulled cider on the roots, toast soaked in the heady mixture was placed on the branches for the robins, who are guardian spirits of the trees.
This was followed by the Apple Tree Chant and loud noises to drive out evil spirits and wake the trees from their winter slumber.
The Wassail tradition reflects how important fruit growing has been for centuries. The benefits of planting a new orchard with local heritage trees are threefold – reviving an interest in locally grown fruit; conserving local varieties; and providing a refuge for wildlife.
The Orchard was planted by South Beds Friends of the Earth in 2011 and is maintained with the help of volunteers.