Published on 26th January 2024
Work to reinstate a traditional orchard at Weavers Field is underway thanks to support from the community, council officers and partners.
The first phase of the community orchard project at Weavers Field has seen 20 fruit trees planted, with plans to rejuvenate some of the existing plum trees in the coming months.
Stephen Mason, community parks officer, said: “Reinstating the historic orchard at Weavers Field with fruit-bearing, wildlife-enhancing, carbon-storing trees is fantastic. We’re fortunate to have many active and involved communities who have received some great advice from Gloucestershire Orchard Trust which will enable the project to flourish. We are looking forward to seeing the trees bloom and the community enjoy the fruits of this labour.”
Local school children - from Cheltenham Bournside School, High School Leckhampton and Warden Hill Primary School - and volunteers from the local community, along with Martin Hayes from Gloucestershire Orchard Trust, local councillors and the council’s green space team rolled up their sleeves for the planting earlier this month.
The fruit varieties have been thoughtfully chosen with a mix of traditional Gloucestershire tree along with some modern strains to ensure a good crop. The trees include apple, cherry and plum trees and the parties are hoping to source and plant an original Warden Pear variety later in the year.
Historically, Warden Hill was made up of a number of orchards and its name likely comes from the warden pear variety; a pear also now features in the parish council emblem.
Cllr Iain Dobie, cabinet member for waste, recycling and street services said: “The Weavers Field community orchard is a great achievement and a fantastic start to the new year. I’m pleased to see the excitement in the community and local schools who’ve worked with us and Gloucestershire Orchard Trust to take another step to enhance Cheltenham’s biodiversity creating a legacy that will benefit generations to come.”
Martin Hayes, from Gloucestershire Orchard Trust, said: “Orchards are at the top of the ‘tree’ when it comes to biodiversity with community orchards such as Weavers Field playing an important part. The Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT), are quick to get involved as we know the importance to people and wildlife. We are able to give expert advice, talk to all stakeholders to iron out any issues, give free time to plan, source and plant the orchards as it is our passion.”
Funding for revitalising the orchard has come from Gloucestershire County Council via Forestry Commission LATF (Local Authority Treescape Fund), Cheltenham Borough Council, and Cotswold National Landscape.
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Notes to editor:
Funding was sourced from following schemes: £2,130 Gloucestershire County Council, ‘Trees for Gloucestershire’ scheme, £850 Cheltenham Borough Council greenspace development and £2,500 Cotswold National Landscape Caring for the Cotswolds scheme.