Are we apple polishing community orchards?
I was talking to residents at Heathfield at the weekend and some of them questioned whether community orchards were actually such a great idea. In a settlement with limited green space, keeping what there is as a "blank canvas" for ball games, sitting on the grass or just allowing children to run around and let off steam may be preferable to allocating space for an orchard which then might limit other usage. And of course the orchard needs commitment and maintenance if it is to flourish like Whittlesford's (main pic).
Whittlesford's community orchard started as an idea in 2010 when Ann Beeby and I went on a introduction to orchards day run by the district council. Inspired, a small group of parish councillors (three of us) identified a plot of land that a villager wished to gift to the community. Unfortunately that fell through and so another spot was found on the allotments, close to mature fruit trees established by the late and green-fingered Fred Winter.
So any community embarking on a orchard project needs to plan for the long term, and get good quality advice on tree types, maintenance requirements and so on. Today when I checked it out the trees were just in bud but it looked cold and bleak - but give it a few weeks!