Half-mile fruit tree orchard takes root on Leeds estate

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DOZENS of residents on the Cottingley Hall Estate in Leeds enjoyed a blooming marvellous day out helping plant the first of a planned half-mile avenue of fruit trees.

Around 60 residents pitched in to help plant the first 50 of 100 trees planned to create a community orchard in an unlikely location on the south Leeds estate.

Date:29th February 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Residents, volunteers from local businesses and the Parks and Countryside Service came together and with the trees, training and support provided by Helping Britain Blossom1, started planting the first 50 trees of their proposed and possibly record breaking 100 tree community orchard on the Cottingley Hall Estate in Leeds. Pictured Vikki Blake, Cottingley In Bloom's Secretary helping on the project.

Date:29th February 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Residents, volunteers from local businesses and the Parks and Countryside Service came together and with the trees, training and support provided by Helping Britain Blossom1, started planting the first 50 trees of their proposed and possibly record breaking 100 tree community orchard on the Cottingley Hall Estate in Leeds. Pictured Vikki Blake, Cottingley In Bloom's Secretary helping on the project.

The orchard borders the railway line and the M621 and is encircled by a Leeds Ring Road.

Several varieties of apple tree including heritage varieties were planted in he orchard alongside almond trees.

Alan Thornton , Helping Britain Blossom Leeds project manager, said: “The location of the Cottingley Hall orchard is testimony to the fact that you don’t have to live in the country to have a community orchard.

“What you do need is a passionate group of people to take on its care, which is what Cottingley Hall has with its dedicated Cottingley in Bloom volunteers.

“They’ve got the enthusiasm. Our involvement is to provide the knowledge, tools and trees needed to create a sustainable orchard.”

The community orchard provides a healthy outdoor activity for people of all ages and an opportunity to meet fellow residents.

Helping Britain Blossom, a partnership between Heineken, The Urban Orchard Project and The Bulmer Foundation, has a mission to plant and restore 100 community orchards across Britain by 2017.

It is working alongside environmental regeneration charity Groundwork to encourage the diverse communities living in Cottingley Hall to get involved with the project.

Neil Whiting of Cottingley in Bloom, said: “There are a lot of people in the tower blocks who keep to themselves, as well as people living in sheltered accommodation and those with special needs. The orchard is a wonderful vehicle through which to integrate the diverse communities that live here. Gardening is a great leveller because everyone gets dirt beneath their finger nails.”

Around 60 residents pitched in to help plant the first 50 of 100 trees planned to create a community orchard in an unlikely location on the south Leeds estate.

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said: “We are very fortunate to have so many residents, community groups and organisations in Leeds who are committed to playing their part in ensuring green spaces in communities’ right across our city look so fantastic and have so much to offer.

“This campaign to restore 100 community orchards across Britain by 2017 is a really fantastic idea, and we were delighted to offer up some of our green spaces in Leeds to be part of this project, which I am sure residents of all ages will enjoy.”

Prime Minister Theresa May. PIC: PA

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