The Community Orchards Challenge Fund was set up to address the decline in traditional orchards in the UNESCO North Devon Biosphere. Orchards are recognised for their important biodiversity and community value.
The Challenge Fund was open to applications between 20th August and 31st December 2020 and was financially supported by the Devon County Council locality grants scheme and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (as part of the Pledge for Nature project) with technical support from Simeon Day, the chair at Orchards Live.
The North Devon Biosphere are pleased to confirm that 9 community groups and 3 schools received funding to support the creation and/or management of their orchard. The orchard applications were well researched and included local fruit tree varieties that are well suited to the North Devon climate. The orchards will provide a benefit to wildlife including pollinators and birds such as fieldfares that eat windfall apples and fruit. The local community will be involved in the tree planting and hopefully will enjoy the space for its mental health benefits as well as an area to host future events such as apple days and wassailing.
The orchards that have received funding are in the following locations:
· Roundswell housing estate: Eight trees will be planted along the cycle/walkway by Chris Lofthouse. Supported by Councillor Biederman.
· Swimbridge village: The community is reinvigorating the Old Orchard as part of the larger Parklands Project and is planning to plant 10 trees and will be installing benches to make it an attractive place to spend time. Supported by Councillor Edgell.
· East and West Buckland village hall: Planting eight trees in the village hall grounds to be enjoyed by the community. Supported by Councillor Yabsley.
· National Trust, Middlesborough Hill, Croyde: Transforming a field into a wildflower meadow and orchard with 24 fruit trees with open access for the community. Supported by Councillor Chugg.
· Launds Field, Chittlehamholt: 20 treeswill be planted by the community on one side of the Playing field. Supported by Councillor Edgell.
· Woolacombe Allotments: 20 trees will be planted in the community allotments, a popular area used by the whole community. Supported by Councillor Davis
· Valley of the Rocks recreation field: Eight trees will be planted in the recreation field which is easily accessible to the community. Supported by Councillor Davis.
· Weare Giffard: A 5-year old orchard that required funding to help buy strimming equipment and pay for pruning training for their regular volunteers. Supported by Councillor Hellyer.
· Pounds Meadow, Braunton: A group in the community have joined together to buy a small area of land which they plan to plant orchard trees and have areas for wildlife.
· The Park Community School: A community orchard made up of 17 trees will be created on currently unused land in the school and looked after by the gardening club. Supported by Councillor Mathews.
· Southmead Primary School: The trees will provide shade in the summer and will also be a science/maths resource for pupils. Supported by Councillor Chugg.
· Orchard Vale Community School: A forest school area has been developed within the school and four trees will be added to the site which will be used to grow our own healthy snack as well as feeding the birds and bees. Supported by Councillor Mathews.
Thank you to the community members, groups, Councillors and teachers for your work to source trees, recruit volunteers, provide funds and locate land for your orchards. We are looking forward to hearing about their future use and enjoyment.
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