'Everyone can use the space' - create your own community orchard

Whitley Bay Community orchard after planting

More communities in North Tyneside could soon have their own orchards, thanks to new funding from North Tyneside Council.

The council has secured £11,300 of Coronation Living Heritage Funding to help local community groups establish orchards in their area.

An orchard is a collection of fruit and, sometimes, nut trees. They can be grown in small spaces and don’t need acres of land for planting. In fact, the minimum number of trees for an application is five.

Community orchards are excellent places for people to come together to plant and cultivate a variety of fruit trees. They can become a hub for community activities and events.

Jean Morrison is Secretary of the Whitley Bay Community Orchard and Allotment. The residents there began planning for an orchard on derelict land 12 years ago, and received funding from North Tyneside Council, along with other partners, to help start the orchard.

It’s now flourishing, with more than 40 fruit trees, and the group has plans to host a hive of honeybees.

Jean is encouraging others to start an orchard: “We started out with some abandoned land, covered in bramble and rubble, with lots of anti-social behaviour problems

“We’ve now transformed it into a haven for the community. It’s for everyone, and for anyone to use, including children and community groups.

“The plot is narrow, but you can create an orchard from the most surprising of places. I’d definitely encourage others to start their own.

“We’re so happy with what we’ve achieved”.

Councillor Sandra Graham, Cabinet member for the Climate Emergency said:

“We’re proud of the work we do to increase bio-diversity across the borough, and our ambitious target to be carbon-net zero by 2030. I am delighted that we have secured this external funding which will enable more residents to have their own havens.

“Orchards contribute to pollinator populations and are an opportunity for schools and the community to learn new skills, like wildlife identification, horticultural skills, and maintenance of the trees.

“These orchards will not only benefit residents now, but future generations to come”.

The funding covers a one-off payment to set up the orchard, with a small allowance the following year to plant replacement trees.

To register your interest and receive an application form, please email treeplanting@northtyneside.gov.uk and mention the Coronation Living Heritage Fund.

The Coronation Living Heritage Fund supported by £2.5m in funding has been made available through Defra’s £758m Nature for Climate Fund to allow county, unitary, metropolitan, London borough, district and city local authorities the chance to apply for up to two grants for projects ranging between £10,000 and £50,000.
The funding will support the development of micro woods and community orchards and commemorate the King’s Coronation. Funds can be distributed across projects in their area.
Through the England Trees Action Plan and supported by the £758m Nature for Climate Fund Defra will help to transform the treescape and the forestry sector helping to put the UK on track to meet net zero targets, reverse the decline in nature and support economic growth.”’

For more information about North Tyneside Council’s Action on Climate Change, click here.

For more information about the Whitley Bay Orchard and Allotment Group, please contact allotnews@gmail.com