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Leicestershire Orchard Scheme Bears Fruit

A programme offering free packs of fruit trees to community groups, parish councils, and schools for establishing new orchards across the county has received a significant boost with over £28,000 in Government funding.

Run by Leicestershire County Council, the community orchards programme enables groups to apply for complimentary orchard packs. Each pack includes 10 apple and pear trees, stakes, and other necessary equipment to establish the orchard.

These trees can be used either to create new community orchards or to enhance and expand existing ones. However, the trees must be planted in publicly accessible areas, with groups requiring landowner permission and committing to long-term maintenance and care of the orchard.

The scheme's future is now secured for at least another year, thanks to a £28,290 grant from Defra's Coronation Living Heritage Fund.

Launched in 2022, the community orchards scheme initially provided 50 trees to schools and community groups. This number has risen to 300 trees in 2023, with the new funding set to support 20 larger schemes in 2024.

To date, 25 schools, 16 parishes, one borough council, and one farm have benefited from the scheme, either by planting new orchards or enhancing existing ones.

Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for the environment and the green agenda, commented: "Orchards and trees are crucial for enhancing our ecosystem and biodiversity. This scheme allows voluntary and community groups to significantly contribute to making Leicestershire a cleaner, greener place to live and work.

"The creation of new orchards across the county presents a unique chance to develop green spaces that not only yield fresh, healthy produce but also provide sanctuaries for wildlife and contribute towards our goal of planting 700,000 trees in Leicestershire.

"We are thrilled that Defra has acknowledged the value of this initiative and provided the funding to ensure its continued growth and success."

Groups interested in applying for a tree pack should contact the council's Forestry team at Packs will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.


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