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Community orchard to promote healthier living

Pupils from Asquith Primary School braved the icy wind and rain to help plant a new community orchard in Jackson's Field in Mansfield this week.

Joining the youngsters in planting 72 trees and 200 shrubs on Tuesday 13 February were Mansfield District Council staff;  Cllr Andy Sissons, the local ward councillor; and members of the Greenwood Forest Community Team who, along with the school, have helped plan the orchard with the council. 

Apples, both cooking and eating varieties, pears, plums, cherries,Nottingham medlers, hazelnuts and mulberries were planted, along with edible hedgerow shrubs, including hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and elder, on a hillside in the park.

As well as creating a greener environment, the scheme aims to promote a healthier lifestyle among residents who will be able get out and enjoy the orchard and pick and use the fruit that the trees and shrubs will eventually produce. 

Each apple tree could produce 365 fruits a year - enough free apples to make up one of your 'five a day' for a whole year or 90 apple pies!

The project has been funded using Section 106 contributions received from new residential developments close to the park which are used for recreational enhancements and improvements on parks and open spaces.  

Sean Davies, the council's Arboreal Officer, who has helped bring the scheme together, said: "People will be able to come and pick all the wonderful organic fruit the trees produces in a few years. We also hope it will encourage wildlife, insects and birds."

Cllr Andrew Tristram, Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: "It is great that local youngsters have been involved in this scheme. They will be able to watch these trees grow, as they grow themselves, learn about the environment, and take pride that they have helped create what will be a beautiful new green space in their own neighbourhood.

"In addition, they and their families will be able to benefit in years to come from getting out in the fresh air to enjoy this orchard and all the fresh food that these trees and shrubs will produce. 

"Improving the lifestyles of local people, by encouraging them to take more exercise and to eat healthier food is something we are really keen to see in Mansfield. This all contributes towards our overall vision of improving residents' health and reducing health inequalities." 

Cllr Sissons added: "This is a great scheme. The orchard might look a but sparse and muddy at the moment but it will soon start making an impact on this park and enhancing the area.

"It will be fantastic resource for local schools and a place for schoolchildren to visit in the future to learn about the wildlife. The aim is to have benches there where people can enjoy picnics.   

"We also hope that it will bring people together and inspire them to care for their local environment by helping to maintain this orchard with tasks such as pruning the trees and looking after the hedges."  

The grass in the orchard will be allowed to grow to enable wildlife to flourish. It is expected that it will take five years for the trees to establish and produce a harvest of fruit, berries and nuts.

The trees in Jackson's Field are the ninth community orchard to be planted in the Mansfield district over the past five years - a total of 665 fruit trees.

Other community orchards can be found at:           

  • King George V Park
  • Yeoman Hill Park
  • Carr Bank Park
  • Forest Road Park
  • Fisher Lane Park
  • Teversal Avenue, Pleasley 
  • The Carrs Local Nature Reserve in Warsop
  • Ravensdale Local Nature Reserve, off Barringer Road.

The orchards are maturing year on year and all starting to produce fruit which is free and easy to collect from all sites. An average full grown apple or pear tree can produce about 160lb of free fruit a year.

Friends Groups help to manage a number of our orchards and local schools are actively invited to be involved in the care of the trees. 

There are also two independent community orchards in Mansfield Woodhouse managed by Friends Of Millennium Green and St Edmund's Church.

The council plans to plant more orchards in the future as funding becomes available.

Published on 15 February 2018


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