November 2015 - A green-fingered bunch of Transitioners are in the process of creating a scattered community orchard in Woodbridge and the surrounding areas.
Orchard sites planted so far
We've planted trees in two locations in Woodbridge.
Site 1 - Morley Avenue, Woodbridge
In November 2015, with the help of Woodbridge in Bloom, we planted two greengages, gooseberries (donated by High House Fruit Farm, Sudbourne) and other berries by the side of the wall with the Cherry Tree Pub. Local residents are helping with watering.
Site 2 - Beresford Drive, Woodbridge
In November 2015, we have prepared and planted three fruit trees, two apples (Bountiful and Russet) and a pear (Beurre Hardy) on espalier posts and lines. We will be planting a further two trees in 2016. Gooseberry bushes donated by High House Fruit Farm, Sudbourne were also planted between the trees. People in the local community were given a leaflet with an explanation of what we were intending to do and asked for help with watering. A rota has been set up with residents following a positive response to this leaflet.
We've also planted trees in two locations in Melton.
Site 1 - St. Andrew's Church, Station Road
In November 2013, with the help of the Mothers and Toddlers group from St. Andrews Church, we planted two apple trees at the back of the church. The first tree is a Catshead Landrace and is derived from an ancient tree at Battisford Church. Deb Pratt (pictured) worked with Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group (STOG) and Crown Nursery to identify the tree and graft it onto a root stock. The second tree, chosen by Jenny Eckersley, clearly a Parochial Church Council member with a sense of humour, is a 'Red Devil' dessert apple.
(See all the photos here)
Site 2 - Melton Riverside
February 2014 saw the start of the first Woodbridge community orchard when we planted five pear trees at Melton Riverside. This was followed by 5 plum trees and a donated St Edmundsbury Pippin (a Suffolk apple variety) in Autumn 2014. We will continue the planting in Autumn 2016.
(See all the photos here)
A big thank you to Angela Jones and Networking Nature (Suffolk Wildlife Trust) for funding the project. To Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group (STOG) for identifying the Catshead Landrace and Crown Nursery for all their hard work with the grafting.
Can you help?
We've made great progress on the community orchard project but it's still in the early stages. We're still on the look out for any appropriate sites for more community orchards. If you know of any locations that you think would benefit from blossom in spring and free fruit in autumn please get in touch.
Can you help with watering? One of the biggest problems is watering during the summer months so if you would like to help please get in touch.
Aims of the project - Why an orchard?
A place for people
An orchard provides a green space for contemplation, celebration and peace. Trees are good for people and an orchard has a particular sense of permanence. The Community Orchard would be open to everyone and provide residents with a quiet place to come and sit.
Reconnection to the natural world
Productive trees are an obvious connection to the land that grows our food and to the plants that purify our air and help control our climate. Mature and lightly used orchards can be good shelters for wildlife.
A base for sharing knowledge and skills
Growing, preparing and preserving food are becoming forgotten skills. An orchard is an excellent base for re-learning them. It could provide a permanent outdoor venue where both adults and children learn more about food growing, wildlife and conservation.
Production of truly local food
An orchard will provide minimal calories but maximum opportunities for increasing knowledge and understanding our food supply. The use of heritage and local varieties will help maintain biodiversity.
An orchard would be a long-term asset to Woodbridge. With good annual maintenance an orchard will last for decades. In the longer term, it could form part of a larger network of community-run open spaces across Woodbridge that produce food. Each open space could offer a different experience or opportunity to learn new skills. With various food-focused events throughout the year such as Apple Day, outdoor plays or picnics, pruning and preserving courses, the orchard could form a new focal point where residents can come together.
Local case study
Villagers recently planted a scattered orchard in Waldringfield, Newbourne and Hemley. Suffolk Acre, Transition Woodbridge, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group (STOG) supported the project.
Further reading from local government.