Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Community orchard on wasteland

A GREEN space in Henley could be converted into a community orchard.

The town council, which owns the plot between Deanfield Road and Leaver Road, is set to order £500 worth of fruit trees such as varieties of apple, pear and plum or more unusual types like mulberry, quince and medlar. It also hopes to have a shelter, bench and information boards.

Volunteers could plant the trees next winter along with a “foraging hedge” with blackberry, damson and crab apple which would bear fruit by the end of 2019.

The council’s park services team would water the saplings throughout their first summer, mow the grass four times a year and prune the trees.

The orchard could host a range of community events including picnics, poetry readings, storytelling, open days with wildlife talks, tastings and cooking workshops.

The council’s recreation and amenities committee came up with the idea after residents living nearby complained that the area was neglected.

Sam Evans, who chairs the committee, said: “There is nothing on that plot and it looks a bit of a mess.

“There’s a well-used footpath running through it but it’s slippery and overgrown so we wanted to do something to make it prettier. We didn’t want an ordinary park as it would encourage people to congregate in a residential area, which might cause a nuisance for neighbours.

“We decided an orchard could be facilitated by the council but ultimately run by the community, meaning it would involve as many people as possible.

“It would teach children about where their food comes from so it would be an area of learning and fun.

“It’s an ideal location as the views from that space are beautiful — it’s high up and you can see so much of the town.”

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