All over the country Community Orchards are being created by local people, becoming the modern equivalent of the local woodlands of a century ago – a communal asset for the whole parish.
Who are we?
We are a small group of volunteers excited at the possibility of having such a community orchard in Histon & Impington.
Initially, we began by holding a couple of meetings to allow us to see if there was interest in the idea. With a number of people expressing interest, we took a stall out to some local events and received a lot of encouragement and support for the idea.
Following this, we began the process of approaching the Parish Council for permission to establish an orchard on some land they were in the process of acquiring a lease on. Some months later we were formally granted permission to plant an orchard on the site. This was when the real work began.
In January 2012 we held our first Annual General Meeting. Following this the business of planning, raising funds, ordering trees, and organising volunteers began in earnest. We planted our first trees in February 2013, and completed the boundary hedge in December 2013. We plan to plant further trees in 2014 and 2015 and are progressively increasing the diversity of plants in the meadow around the trees. In the future we plan to put in paths, artwork and other orchard-compatible features.
Why do we need a community orchard?
The presence of the Chivers Factory meant that fruit production was of great importance to the local area. In the 1940s it was possible to walk all the way from Histon to Over through orchards.
Since then there has been a dramatic decline not only in the number of orchards in this country, but also in the variety of apples that are produced. There were a number of local apples, including Histon’s own Chivers Delight and Cottenham’s Jolly Miller. Traditional orchards have been recognised under government plans as being incredibly important areas for biodiversity (find out more).
Reversing the trend
Community Orchards are being established in many places around the country, including one at Trumpington, Harston and Cambourne. The orchard is not just be trees – it includes a variety of wild flowers, which provide a welcome and needed habitat for local wildlife, as well as significant traditional hedge plants. Here’s some other local Community Orchards – please tell us if you know of any more.
We believe that an orchard brings many community benefits:
- revive interest in fruit growing
- encourage the sharing of horticultural knowledge and skills
- be a place for quiet contemplation
- provide a centre for local festivities
- counteract the continued massive loss of local orchards
- preserve local fruit varieties
- give a refuge for all manner of wildlife
- help prevent food deserts
The orchard is located between the Guided Busway and Manor Park, accessible via footpaths from Somerset Road or Saffron Road. The ground and some pathways can get muddy during the winter months.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the orchard and they range from schoolchildren to the retired. Volunteers are especially appreciated for events and maintenance days. Helping out for just a few hours a year can make an enormous difference to the things we can get done.
We run a number of events at the orchard across the year, including a Winter Wassail, our Bird in the Hand Breakfast (with the RSPB), and Juicing Days. We also organize days for Pruning Workshops and related skills.