Volunteers plant new community orchard in Leeds

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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Residents in a part of north Leeds will soon have fresh fruit growing on their doorsteps with the planting of a new community orchard.

Yesterday, volunteers in Alwoodley and Wigton Moor joined the Friends of Wigton Moor Woods to plant the orchard at Wigton Moor Park, with support from Helping Britain Blossom, who supplied the equipment, trees and expertise.

It now boasts 10 fruit trees with different blossoming, pollination and ripening times including apple, pear, plum damson, mulberry and cherry.

It also has 15 soft fruit bushes including raspberry, redcurrant, white currant and gooseberry.

Situated next to the allotments, the orchard’s site was once earmarked for a car park but has been saved for a healthy cause after the idea by Friends of Wigton Moor Woods.

The voluntary group was founded five years ago to conserve and enhance the park and increase public awareness and enjoyment out of it.

Debbie Whittaker, group co-chair, said: “We’ve done a lot in the park in the last few years with the support of the council including planting thousands of plants. We’d seen other community orchards in Leeds and so approached Helping Britain Blossom to help us plant one at Wigton Moor.

She added: “The planting has shown that the orchard will help root the community and provide a reason for people to come together in the park at different times of the year. We plan to hold an Apple Day in the Autumn and hope more people will join in community orchard events in months to come.”

Alan Thornton, Helping Britain Blossom project manager, said: “The Friends of Wigton Moor Woods is an active and very enthusiastic group of volunteers with a love of their local woods and green space. Their passion includes wanting an orchard that will appeal to young and old alike, that will keep people active and produce delicious, healthy fruit for everyone to enjoy.”

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive member for environment and sustainability said: “Groups such as the Friends of Wigton Moor Woods play a vital role in protecting and improving green spaces in our communities. The planting of a community orchard in Wigton Moor Woods is therefore a fantastic initiative by the friends of group which can be enjoyed by people of all ages.”

For more information on planting or restoring community orchards, email Alan Thornton on alan@theorchardproject.org.uk or visit www.helpingbritainblossom.org.uk.

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