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Fruit trees plan for Wolverhampton neighbourhood

By Joe Sweeney | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A district in Wolverhampton is looking to reintroduce community orchards to its neighbourhood, as a way of encouraging local residents to get their ‘five-a-day’.

Councillor Paul Birch and Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden launching the community orchards initiative in Blakenhall (picture taken prior to introduction of social distancing).

Up until recent years, most farms, country houses and suburban gardens had their own fruit trees, which dwindled with the development of roads and houses and the import of cheap fruits from abroad.

The idea of community orchards is still very popular in Scandinavian countries such as Norway, and now a leading city councillor is spearheading a campaign to bring them to his ward of Blakenhall.

Councillor Paul Birch said: “The Norwegians are known for many things – fjords, links to Roald Dahl – and also community orchards.

“We have literally taken a leaf out of their book with this ‘nudge’ on public health and the environment.

“We are planting fruit trees in green spaces throughout Blakenhall. The sites are yet to be identified but are likely to include schools, allotments and potentially parks and large green spaces.

“The concept is to encourage children in particular to take the fruit and eat it as part of their five-a-day."

He added: “We also hope that during the season this initiative will improve the food poverty situation faced by many in the city. The trees also will have a positive impact on carbon and excess groundwater.

“At present we are calling on members of the community who are willing to join our local allotment volunteers and groundworks charity Right Track to dig in and help us to grow and maintain fruit trees throughout Blakenhall.”

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Councillor Birch said he had written to Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield asking for other wards to look at the possibility of community orchards as a means of improving public health in the city.

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, who is backing the initiative, said: “I think this could be a great idea to bring neglected areas of land back into productive use.

“The period of lockdown has brought a lot of people a bit closer to nature. This could be a good way to carry that forward.”

Joe Sweeney

By Joe Sweeney
@JoeSweeneyLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Wolverhampton.

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