A community orchard for Blewbury – dream becomes reality
by John Ogden of Sustainable Blewbury
The idea of community orchards was put forward in 1992 by the charity Common Ground and since then the idea has taken off across Britain.
Blewbury’s opportunity to join the movement arose when Sustainable Blewbury applied for and were offered a grant to cover the costs of creating an orchard in Tickers Folly Field.
The grant comes from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) and permission to use the land came from Blewbury Parish Council, owners of the field. A group of enthusiasts have been carrying out a feasibility study over recent months: first a soil survey was undertaken, with positive results, and then the project was presented to the village in Bulletin articles and exhibitions to test local reaction.
The local response has been very enthusiastic, with plenty of volunteers putting their names forward to help and many suggestions for the fruits and varieties that should be included. A list of fruits, varieties and rootstocks has been proposed, taking full account of the various suggestions from the village, and a layout of the orchard and the placing of individual trees has been drawn up with planting to take place later in Autumn.
An orchard does capture the imagination. They can be magical places and havens for wildlife. And we plan to make the most of this opportunity by creating a wildlife-friendly habitat in the orchard.
Another priority is to involve village children in the project and to ensure that the community as a whole feels that it ‘owns’ the orchard!
And last, but by no means least, the project team must draw up a ‘management plan’ to ensure that the project is cared for into the future, long after grant monies have been used up.