A NEW campaign to bring back England’s traditional orchards has been successfully launched in Huddersfield.
And the Community Orchard project will link into the recently launched national campaign to save traditional orchards.
Since the 1950s, 60% of England’s traditional orchards have disappeared.
The campaign by the National Trust and Natural England aims to halt that decline by identifying and reviving neglected traditional orchards as well as creating new ones.
It is hoped community groups and organisations will offer to plant new orchards on patches of wasteland and allotment sites around the town, with Kirklees Council providing the young trees and the expertise.
And the council is already doing its bit to help preserve traditional varieties of apple, with grafting classes for gardeners.
Julian Faulkner, Kirklees Countryside Unit’s social forestry officer, said: “Orchards are wonderful places not just because of the fruit they bear but because they are a refuge for wildlife – including bats, butterflies and birds.
“They also support plants that provide a source of food for the insects that help pollinate the fruit and destroy pests.
“Their importance has been recognised with the addition of traditional orchards to the list of priority habitats included in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).”
For the past four years, Julian, with the help of the Northern Fruit Group, has been running highly popular courses in the grafting, budding and pruning of fruit trees.
An integral part of these courses is the preservation of old Yorkshire apple varieties.
Traditional apple varieties were also used in projects run by Julian which have created two community orchards on derelict land – one on a disused allotment site on Sycamore Avenue in Golcar and the other on neglected land next to Royds Hall Allotments in Paddock.
The orchards were planted by and are being managed by local residents and allotment holders.
Now Julian wants to see community orchards spread throughout Kirklees. He wants local groups (friends, schools, churches, parish councils and other community organisations) to identify possible sites for orchards and to take ‘ownership’ of them by getting involved in their planting and management.
He added: “Community orchards can work in all sorts of places – housing estates, schools, hospitals, even industrial estates.
“Wherever they are, they will enrich people’s lives by improving diet, health and well-being and teaching people cultivation skills as well as providing places for quiet contemplation or local festivities. And people will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour by sharing the harvest.”
For further information contact Julian. Phone 01484 234083.