Starting out as part of the Bishop's Stortford Climate Group, we are a small but committed group of people with a particular interest in Orchards.
We know that community orchards provide value through:
Community building, with the group taking responsibility for the orchard and for recruiting volunteers, including local residents and school communities, to plant and maintain it
Planting trees, which leave a legacy of historic varieties and their fruit harvest for future generations to enjoy
Mitigating climate change, by acting as a carbon sink and oxygen generator
Contributing to biodiversity, through adding plants and habitat for the benefit of pollinators and other species
Providing green space for people to enjoy day to day and learn from, with special occasions, such as Apple Days, and opportunities for outdoor learning for local schools
We want to have a variety of trees in our orchards, to help birds, bees, butterflies and other insects find food and homes. Wild flowers could flourish around the trees and help make them lovely places for the community.
The Community Orchards Group has been working with East Herts District Council who are supporting the orchard in the Northern Parkland area near Stockmen Field in St. Michael’s Mead. East Herts Council granted funding for the trees and planting materials.
We have now planted 31 historic Hertfordshire varieties from the East of England Apples and Orchard Project. This includes apples, pears, plums and cherries.
The Community Orchards Group had signed a lease with Bishop's Stortford Town Council to develop a community orchard at Jenkins Lane. The Town Council had also awarded us a grant for the project. However, testing of the soil on the council's Jenkins Lane site has found elevated levels of lead, which sadly makes the land unsuitable for use as an orchard.
We are on the look out for alternative sites in the town to plant fruit trees.