Berryfields’ first community orchard planted

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Children from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Berryfields, Sutton Coldfield, joined staff from the Sanctuary Housing association and local residents to plant Berryfields’ first community orchard in council owned parkland behind the school.

The new 15 tree apple, pear and plum orchard will be maintained by the community for the community with the help and support of Helping Britain Blossom1, which is providing expertise, training and fruit trees, and Groundwork West Midlands, an environmental regeneration charity, which proposed the site for an orchard as part of its Active Berryfields2 programme. The initiative is part of a wider Helping Britain Blossom programme to create and restore over 100 community orchards across Britain by 2017.

Supporting the community to provide the knowledge and skills needed for the ongoing management of the orchard is a vital part of the project as planting an orchard is only the start of the journey. They need nurturing to thrive and the community to cherish them.

Says HBB project manager, Rob Tilling: “Community orchards are wonderful assets, they bring people together and provide a healthy outdoors activity for all ages throughout the seasons and an opportunity to learn new skills with the added bonus of free fruit for all.

“The community will be able to start picking fruit in three to four years. In the meantime there will be events such as pruning, mulching and wassailing to enjoy.”

Katrina Crowley, vice principal of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Primary School said:

“This is a fantastic project to support and be involved with the local community. It is a great way to bring the community together for a worthwhile cause and for our children to understand the importance of planting trees. In years to come, when these children bring their children to school, they will be able to show their children the trees they planted in their school years. We look forward to working more closely with our local community in the future.”

Local Berryfields estate resident and allotment holder, 68 year old Stan Pyne and his wife, Ann, joined in with the planting. They’ve lived on the estate for 30 years. Stan said: “I really enjoyed the few hours we spent planting the Berryfields orchard. It was very well organised and great to have experts on hand who knew what they were doing. I’ve enjoyed doing something different and learning new skills. I learnt all about grafting, pruning and mulching. It was also lovely to see the children getting behind the project and to know that the orchard will be there for generations to come. We now need more residents to get behind the project and make it something we as a community can be proud of and enjoy. It only takes a couple of hours and is great exercise to boot. I was ready for a few beers at the end of it!”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Berryfields community orchard or helping out with it should email Rob@theurbanorchardproject.org or become a friend of Helping Britain Blossom on facebook. To find out more information about Helping Britain Blossom visit the website: www.helpingbritainblossom.org.uk.