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Community Orchard

This page contains information about the community orchard at Brocks Hill Country Park.

History

Fruit trees at the community orchard in Brocks Hill Country Park

The community orchard was planted in January 2001. Most of the 'cultivars' or fruit varieties originate from the Midlands and growing these fruit trees helps to conserve our heritage. Over 170 trees have been planted, made up from 21 different varieties. A full list of these is available from the Centre. Most of the varieties that have been planted are not available in the shops and are declining due to the loss of orchards within the British countryside.

Every tree has been sponsored, mostly by local people, and details are recorded in an acknowledgement book available for viewing in the Centre. The orchard was a perfect opportunity for sponsorship as the trees will not be thinned and, being planted in lines, are easily located. The fruit can also be harvested annually.

Fruit in the community orchard at Brocks Hill Country ParkWildlife

Local wildlife loves the orchard: early insects such as bees benefit from the blossom, field fare and redwing devour some of the fallen fruit in winter and butterflies benefit from the late source of nectar. A family of foxes is seen regularly playing in the area, song thrushes have nested in the hedge along the orchard boundary and blackbirds, robins, wrens and dunnocks use the fruit trees as song posts.

Management

During the first five years the orchard was kept weeded but as the trees have developed sufficiently to support themselves, management is now focused upon creating a traditionally managed orchard. Fruit trees require regular maintenance and ours are pruned annually to maintain good, vigorous growth and fruit production.

Sponsored cherry trees in Brocks Hill Country ParkTraditionally, orchards were managed for mixed usage to include grazing small livestock. In order to mimic the effects of grazing, the orchard grassland in and around our trees is cut once a month through the growing season. Around the base of the trees the grass has been removed to allow water and nutrients to the roots.

At present, the grassland close to the orchard is managed as a hay meadow, with a cut taken from late summer to early autumn and this helps improve conditions for wild flowers to flourish. This wild flower meadow provides a valuable source of nectar and food-plants to support many species of insect. The retained hedges are also a valuable habitat for wildlife.

Accessibility

Fruit blossom in the community orchard at Brocks Hill Country ParkThe orchard is located near the Centre, which means that people who have limited walking ability can easily access it. The paths which meander through the orchard are suitable for wheelchair and pushchair use, and seating is available by the wild flower meadow.

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