Yesterday (November 14), over a hundred fruit trees were planted at Dinton Pastures Country Park as one of several orchard projects that have been planned across Berkshire, organised by the Community Council for Berkshire, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by Wokingham Borough Council.
Local Berkshire varieties of apple trees including the Charles Ross and Cox’s Orange Pippin were planted. Orchards are particularly valuable to wildlife, providing food for bullfinches.
The trees will help enhance Hurst Golf Course, which is located at Dinton Pastures, making it a more attractive place for customers to play golf. Eventually, fruit from the orchard will be used by the Dragonfly Café in its excellent cakes and puddings.
WBC countryside officers planted the trees with the help of volunteers from Thrive’s Growing-4-Life project. Thrive is a small national charity that uses gardening to change people’s lives. Dinton Pastures has a team of supported volunteers who improve and maintain the public gardens around the café, at the same time using gardening to promote health and wellbeing.
Carl Harney, project officer from Thrive, said: "It’s been fantastic for the volunteers to work alongside the countryside service team at Dinton Pastures. Being involved in a big planting project has been great for improving social interaction and learning new horticultural skills."
The Berkshire orchard project will establish community orchards in four areas of Wokingham Borough during 2011 and 2012. The Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £26,889, along with financial and ‘in-kind’ support from Wokingham Borough Council, will enable the creation of orchards in the parishes of Twyford, Wargrave and Swallowfield, and at Dinton Pastures Country Park.
The project aims to develop an understanding of the links between growing food and healthy eating. The project will involve:
planting 290 fruit trees in public open spaces
providing resources relating to the history, production and consumption of locally-grown varieties
signage describing the crops, nutrition information and an invitation to "Pick me"
local people gaining practical skills in fruit growing
helping people to understand the important role of orchards in Wokingham Borough’s past
ensuring that diversity and disadvantage is addressed through inclusive values, active citizenship and strong communities
establishing an online resource to provide recipes linked to the varieties of fruit available
Mayor Cllr Dianne King said: "This is one of a number of community orchards being planted in the Borough this year and we’re very fortunate to have this one at Dinton Pastures. These wonderful old apple varieties will not only enhance views from the popular Hurst Golf Course and the Dragonfly Café garden, but will in future provide a valuable new habitat for declining wildlife species such as the Bullfinch."
The project will be administered by CCB with the support of Wokingham Borough Council countryside service and a large number of willing volunteers from the rural communities involved.