Opening of Rowley Community Orchard

Community orchard idea bears fruit

TO celebrate this year’s World Wildlife Day, we held a tree planting ceremony to mark the official opening of a new community orchard, in partnership with the Friends of Rowley Fields.

The orchard at Rowley Fields features a variety of heritage fruit trees including apples, pears, damsons, cherries and plums. Working with local specialist The Heritage Fruit Tree Company, many of the varieties are native to Warwickshire and a mixture of early and late fruiting trees means the orchard should be appealing right through the summer months. There is also a space for community picnics and for local schools to use as an outdoor classroom.

Sara Aspley, Chief Executive, Stratford Town Trust said: “The orchard is going to be a real asset and focal point for the community to get together. 2020 has been designated a super year of nature and biodiversity so we’re pleased that as well as providing fruit for everyone to enjoy, it will also provide a source of food for insects, bees, birds, butterflies and small animals and help to increase the biodiversity in this area.

Stratford Town Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 with councillors pledging to take local action to contribute to national carbon neutral targets through the development of practices and policies, with an aim to being carbon neutral in the District by 2030. Stratford Town Trust are pleased to support this aim with the launch of the new orchard.

After a competition to name the orchard, the winning entry was announced as Rowley Community Orchard as chosen by Charlie Budd. He received a prize of a seasonal hamper kindly donated by The Farm, Stratford upon Avon.

Year 5 pupils from Thomas Jolyffe School who have been studying the environment came along to the ceremony and helped to plant a quince tree. Deputy Headteacher Matt Penn said: ‘The children are learning about the importance of looking after the environment and the new community orchard is a great example of a wildlife friendly space that will benefit people as well as animals for generations to come.’

Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: ‘World Wildlife Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of communities coming together to protect and enhance wildlife. Community orchards have so many benefits and we’re pleased that a previously unused area of Rowley Fields is being put to such good use.’