Orchards to improve local communities
Orchards are to be planted in parishes throughout in the district as part of a new community project led by the Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), Stour Valley Project and Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.
The Scattered Orchards project in Suffolk and Essex will be delivered over the next four months, with close collaboration with community organisations.
The project will involve planting five traditionally grown fruit and nut trees on publicly accessible land in villages and towns in or near the AONBs.
The parishes to see the first sets of planting will be Assington, Boxford, Boxted, Bures St Mary, Brantham, Dedham, East Bergholt, Great Horkesley, Higham, Holton St Mary, Langham, Lawford, Little Horkesley, Nayland with Wissington, Polstead, Raydon, Shelley, Stoke by Nayland, Stratford St Mary and Wormingford.
The aim of the project is to provide an investment for the future that will enrich biodiversity, add a point of interest to the landscape, provide a small community harvest, re-instate traditional fruit trees - especially local varieties - and engage with local communities.
The Suffolk Biodiversity Partnership estimates that since 1900 85 per cent of small farm orchards in the county have gone.
Some local varieties are now becoming scarce and orchards are disappearing from the landscape.
A spokesman for the project said that planting small groups of the more successful traditional fruit and nut trees on publicly accessible land would allow people to enjoy the trees in a number of ways, from seeing the blossom in the spring to eating the fruit and nuts in the autumn.
The new trees will also provide habitats for wildlife.
The roll-out of the projects will reach a peak in January 2016 with the planting of almost 170 traditional fruit and nut trees by local people at 34 locations across the AONBs, including those listed.
“Just as importantly, the project gives local people and AONB volunteers the opportunity to engage in their AONB in a very practical way”.
Nigel Chapman, chair of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project said: “The Scattered Orchard project is a wonderful initiative, not only will it enhance the landscape and wildlife of the Dedham Vale AONB but it will bring communities together as they plant and nurture their trees and enjoy and celebrate the harvest in years to come. A fantastic legacy for the Dedham Vale.”
David Wood, chair of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, added: “It is vital that we do all we can to conserve and improve our finest landscapes.
“The project will make an important contribution the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB landscape.”
The ‘Scattered Orchards’ Project has been funded by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths/Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Sustainable Development Funds and the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Amenity and Accessibility Fund.