Community orchards are a great opportunity for everyone to learn new skills – fencing, wildlife watching, horticultural skills gained from pruning and maintenance of the fruit trees and jam and fruit juice making skills, for example, once the fruit is picked. They benefit wildlife – a variety of flora and fauna – that can be supported by this environment – insects, birds, bees, bats, foxes and small mammals as well as wild flowers.
An orchard need not contain more than 5 small trees, so isn’t the enormous spread we often associate with the word “orchard”.
We have obtained permission from Highland Council to use a section of Viewfield Park to create a community orchard, planting 6 – 10 fruit trees. These will be placed in a small area which we will fence off using a low picket fence providing access to the public through an unlocked gate. We’ll put up information signs explaining the nature of the orchard. Volunteers and members of the general public will be invited to help in the planting and upkeep of the orchard.
We’ve been careful to select a part of the park not used by other groups such as the local schools, Nairn museum and the Sports Club. Some time ago we consulted the Museum who indicated their support for the idea. We have spoken with representatives of Nairn Allotments Society and local growers and aim to purchase heritage species of tree known to be suited to our climate.
We want to make this orchard accessible and free to all, including children, young people and their families. Once it’s established, we plan to hold an annual Apple Day. Over the next few years we believe many school children, scouts and guides, families and other members of the community will acquire new skills from participating, while many others will benefit from the visual impact, will feel welcome to enjoy the place and the fruit and will enjoy the produce (jams etc) made available.
The trees are currently being grown in protected conditions and will be available for purchase and planting in the autumn. The ground and orchard area will be prepared in September or October, depending on weather, and the trees planted during October. Maintenance will be required on an on ad hoc basis from there on, at no extra cost.
We are making bids for small sums to fund the orchard. We have submitted a bid to Nurturing Nairnshire to underwrite the cost of purchasing the trees and the materials needed to plant them (less than £250), but will make a bid to Pebble Trust for the bulk of the funds needed. We will also approach local businesses for sponsorship and materials and will never turn down donations form any quarter!