Plans for community orchards in Leeds start to bear fruit

Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.
Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.
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Eight sites across Leeds are being turned into community orchards in the coming weeks as part of a major tree-planting campaign being carried out across the country.

Fruit trees are being planted at locations including Morley, Cottingley, Killingbeck, Swarcliffe and Farsley, while a hidden council-owned tree orchard at Ouzlewell Green is being restored.

Community orchard tree planting at an earlier event at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

Community orchard tree planting at an earlier event at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

It is part of the Helping Britain Blossom project, aiming to plant and restore 100 community orchards nationwide by 2017.

And residents can join in the orchard plantings as they take place over the next six weeks. Organisers say the events will help people learn new skills, do a healthy outdoor activity and meet new people.

One 40 tree orchard was planted at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet at the end of January, with the next, a 54-tree orchard, due to be planted on the western edge of the Cottingley estate on February 29.

Other plantings include:

Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

- A 29 tree orchard planting on Thursday 3rd March in Dartmouth Park in Morley in a collaboration with the Friends of Dartmouth Park group.

- A 27 tree orchard planting at West Park Fields on March 9 with the Friends of West Park Fields.

- A 19-tree orchard planting on March 12 on the Killingbeck estate and an 11-tree planting in the church garden of St Luke’s in Swarcliffe on March 17.

- A 30 fruit tree planting session on March 25 on council land in Farsley, in support of the Farsley Community Initiative’s plans to put local council owned land to good use.

Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

Community orchard tree planting at Beck Meadows in Barwick in Elmet.

On Saturday, a Helping Britain Bloom workshop takes place between 11am and 2pm to support the restoration of a hidden council owned tree orchard at Ouzlewell Green. Once restored, there are plans for the orchard to double up as an out-door classroom for a local primary school.

Officials behind Helping Britain Blossom, a partnership between brewer Heineken, the Urban Orchard Project and the Bulmer Foundation, say Leeds is a city with “thriving community groups looking to make the most of their local environments”.

Expertise, training and fruit trees will be made available to get the projects started, with help offered afterwards to make the orchards sustainable.

Alan Thornton, Helping Britain Blossom project manager said: “It’s wonderful so many Leeds residents have been inspired by the prospect of having their own community orchards.

“As well as enhancing their local environments, the orchards are a great way for people to meet one another and do something healthy and active while learning news skills.

“They are a catalyst for change in communities and a focus for year round events, such as pruning, plantings, workshops, fruit harvesting days or wassails.

“Although different sizes and locations, the orchards are all accessible for members of the public to enjoy. So do come along, join in and plant a fruit tree for posterity.

“You’ll find a friendly bunch of people wanting to put some of the city’s underused spaces to good use and have fun in the process. You don’t need gardening experience or any equipment, Helping Britain Blossom will provide the knowledge, training and any tools.”

For more information email alan@theurbanorchardproject.org or visit the Helping Britain Blossom facebook page at www.facebook.com/HelpingBritainBlossom.

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