Community Orchard

Apples for everyone….

Update!

We are delighted to announce that our next community orchard will be planted, come rain or shine, on 10 November 2012 from 10am. This will be a mixed fruit orchard, including apples, pears and plums. Since we are planting it in the Queen’s Jubilee year, it is being planted as part of the Woodlands Trust Jubilee Woods project – details of which you can see here. For further detail – please see our ‘In the Pipeline Page’

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We are delighted at the success of our first community orchard planted in November 2010. We are planning on planting a second one in early 2012.

Why should anyone want to establish a community orchard? Who is it for and why bother?

Based in Chalfont St Peter, Change4Chalfont is a growing group of local people concerned about the environment.  We are in the process of joining the Transition movement, a grass roots movement of local communities committed to combating the effects of climate change. The movement is fast gaining in membership across the country, and throughout the world.

Our initiative aims to reduce our local area’s contribution to climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels. We are going about this task in various ways, and one approach is to encourage people to think about sourcing their food locally and making choices that include lower ‘food miles’. This is a reason why we should like to plant and tend a community orchard in our village.

There are many benefits of planting an orchard. Some of them are:

  • To cultivate local and more unusual varieties of fruit.
  • To be an open and free amenity for the public to enjoy.
  • To encourage wildlife.
  • To provide an educational resource for local schools.
  • To be used as a meeting place for older people and to host local events such as Apple Days.
  • To raise awareness of orchard projects.
  • To promote the health benefits of eating fruit.
  • To encourage people to plant fruit trees in their own gardens.

By way of a brief background, since 1970 half of the pear orchards in Britain have been destroyed. The situation with apple growing is even worse: in the mid 1950s there were three thousand commercial apple growers in Britain, whereas now there are just eight hundred and many of these are on a very small scale. Instead, we import and today seventy-six per cent of apples consumed in the UK come from overseas, mostly from China (which produces pretty much all the apples from which we make apple juice) and Turkey.

There is now, however, a growing movement to rediscover local fruit varieties and to plant new orchards. Common Ground, an organisation dedicated to promoting the planting of new orchards and recovering abandoned orchards throughout England, says there are already more than 300 community orchards in the UK run by and for local people. See this page http://www.england-in-particular.info/cg/appleday/a-corc.html from their site.

We have been looking for land situated as centrally as possible upon which to plant the fruit trees, which we intend should be both apples and pears of types that have historically been grown in this area, rather than the usually homogenous varieties. We are currently negotiating with our local District Council to let us plant our orchard on some land at the heart of the village.

We aim to make all aspects of the establishment of the orchard as inclusive as possible; in particular we would like to encourage local schools and organisations such as scout and guide groups to raise money to buy their own tree. We plan to organise a day in the late autumn of 2010 when everyone who has contributed or is interested can get together to plant the trees.

The trees should be planted in the autumn so that they may establish themselves over winter and spring. We have sufficient volunteers to take care of the trees and keep them well-watered when necessary, so we will not depend for any outside help.

We look forward to the planting and growth of the community orchard in our village as we believe it will enhance community spirit, and contribute to awareness raising and action against climate change.

If you’d like to be involved – please contact us!

2 Comments

  1. This project is amazing, what a wonderful idea. Not only for the community but for the honeybee population in the area. Well done all involved.
    I am looking forward to attending one of the meetings soon.

  2. Ann White

    What a lovely idea, I do a variety of voluntary things to help out, getting groups of people involved in worthwhile causes does help the community spirit.



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