Over the 17th and 20th February A Rocha staff and volunteers, along with church groups and local community members worked together to plant a total of 120 fruit trees and edible hedging plants. These trees and plants will form the community orchard at Wolf Fields, a mixture of native varieties of fruit trees have been planted including apples, pears, cherries, plums and some more unusual trees such as mulberry, quince and medlar. In addition to the trees we have planted an edible hedgerow made up of hazel, blackthorn, wild pear, crab apple, elder, dog rose and cherry plum.
These trees and hedging plants will be valuable for both people and wildlife. They will provide plenty of food for wildlife as well as shelter and hopefully some nesting habitat. Additionally, the fruits they produce can be harvested by local community volunteers at Wolf Fields and will also provide a useful resource for the eco-education programmes we run at Wolf Fields.
Traditional orchards are defined as those with five or more trees spaced less than twenty metres apart and ‘extensively’ managed. This means that they are not treated with chemicals, the grass around them is cut seasonally for hay and the trees are allowed to reach full maturity. This kind of management is extremely beneficial for wildlife, especially insects. Predators, like ladybirds, will be attracted to the area and will help to keep down pests, whilst pollinators will benefit from tree blossom. Many invertebrate species benefit from deadwood left standing or lying in the orchard, which is why it is important to maintain deadwood habitats.
This is our aim for the orchard at Wolf Fields. We hope that by managing the population of native trees and hedging plants in a sensitive manner, they should provide huge benefits for wildlife in the local area as well as healthy, organic produce for the community.
Source: The Wildlife Trust