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Planting a community orchard

Fruit trees provide so much to the community. They give food, protection and a home to a variety of wildlife from tiny insects to birds, they help the environment through carbon sequestration and provide food to humans. As a group, Swindon Saplings wanted to plant some mini community orchards within our local green areas for communities to enjoy for decades to come.

There are a number of areas around Swindon being planted with trees as part of the local and national tree planting schemes and have therefore have already gone through the land checks required to ensure that it is a safe place to plant trees (avoiding pipes, drainage etc) and we decided this would be a good place to start.

As we are a home education group, we do not have access to areas of land or school fields like schools may do, so we often have to think outside of the box when it comes to finding space available to complete these projects. One of the group leads, Jools and her daughter Brea, volunteer with a local community group which manages an ancient woodland. The Peatmoor Community Woodland is completely managed by volunteers, who work hard to maintain the woodland and support the array of flora and fauna within it. This connection with the community group gave us the opportunity to plant our first Swindon Saplings Community Orchard.

On a beautiful sunny afternoon, 2 of our families headed down to Peatmoor Lake and got to work planting in 3 apples and 3 pear trees, purchased using some of the prize money awarded by The Do Schools at the Roots & Shoots 2023 awards ceremony. We chose UK native fruit trees and planted them with a new woodland of other UK native trees that were planted last year. We have positioned the trees so that they sit along the front edge of the new woodland and their position means they will continue to be provided with sunlight and space as the woodland trees continue to grow over time. Sadly, the trees came wrapped in plastic, but we made sure we disposed of it correctly with our local soft plastics recycling scheme.

Once planted, Mr H Junior visited the trees to wish them luck with their growing and wee went litter picking around the lake and collected 2 bags of rubbish.

We would like to encourage you to look at planting your own community orchard, whether this is on your school field or just outside of your school gates, or in a local green space as we have done. We are so excited to continue to watch our trees grow and hope that the community and wildlife will be able to enjoy them for many many years to come.



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