30 Alwoodley and Wigton Moor residents and counsellors joined Friends of Wigton Moor Woods recently, to plant a community orchard with the support of Helping Britain Blossom, which provided the fruit trees, soft fruits, expertise and training. 

10 fruit trees with different blossoming, pollination and ripening times were planted including apple, pear, plum damson, mulberry and cherry and an edible hedge made up of a selection of 15 soft fruit bushes including raspberry, redcurrant, white currant and gooseberry. 

Located next to the allotments, the new community orchard was at one time earmarked for a carpark. The orchard was the idea of the Friends of Wigton Moor Woods, a voluntary group which was established five years ago to conserve and enhance the park and increase public awareness and enjoyment of it, helping to promote the health and well-being of local residents.

Alan Thornton Helping Britain Blossom project manager says: “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.  There was a great turn out for the planting and a wonderful communal sense of achievement at the end of it.”

Debbie Whittaker, co-chair of Friends of Wigton Moor Woods 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.

“The planting was fabulous – a great success.  Everything got planted and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  There were people of all ages, a good cross section of the community.  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.”

Councillor 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.”

Volunteer David Metcalfe said of the day: “It was excellent group exercise.  It also brought together a lot of people in community, which was what it was supposed to do.  There’s been quite a bit of interest including from dog walkers stopping to ask about the planting.  It’s a great use of a bit of boggy wasteland land.  The trees should help the ground tremendously soaking up the excess water.  A great day!”

Anyone interested in finding out more about planting or restoring community orchards should email Alan Thornton on
alan@theorchardproject.org.uk or telephone 07730 216943, alternatively to find out more visit www.helpingbritainblossom.org.uk  or become a friend of Helping Britain Blossom on Facebook. 

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