Tettenhall Dick among new orchard trees planted next to Wolverhampton canal
Volunteers and young people have planted the first trees in what is set to become the world's longest community orchard.
Once completed the orchard will run for 50 miles along the West Midlands canal network from Wolverhampton, through Birmingham and out to Worcester providing free fruit to local communities and boaters.
The aim is to plant 3,000 fruit trees at the back of canal towpaths and create pocket orchards along the way and the project kicked off on Monday with a planting session at Aldersley Junction.
Waterways charity the Canal and Rivers Trust is behind the scheme.
Senior ecologist Paul Wilkinson, said: "This is a really ambitious project along our canals across the West Midlands and I really hope people will join us in helping make this happen.
"We’re looking for help from local community champions and businesses to support this project with the tree planting and aftercare to ensure the tress survive and are healthy.
"Creating a community orchard, which will be the longest in the world, will be such an amazing resource with local people being able to enjoy the spring blossom and scrump all sorts of healthy fruit through the summer.
"Research shows that being by water makes us all happier and healthier and once this orchard starts to mature our canals will have the added bonus of beautiful spring blossom on a huge scale boosting the bee population and bringing beauty of nature to people’s doorsteps."
Working with local community volunteers, on what is expected to be a ten-year project, the orchard will be planted with a wide variety of fruit trees such as cherry, plum, apple, and pear.
It will also plant rare historic varieties such as the Tettenhall Dick Pear which originates from the Black Country but was almost a completely lost variety, and exotic species such as peach, apricots, figs, persimmon, loquats, and pomegranates to take account of the warming climate.
The Canal and Rivers Trust says growing fruit trees along canals isn’t a new idea – the original boat families of the Industrial Revolution harvested the fruit as they moved goods and materials to fuel the Industrial Revolution.
Now 200 years on, at the end of the summer, boaters and local people will be encouraged to have an urban fruit celebration day, help harvest the fruit and take home what they pick to create homemade locally grown treats.
The project has been partly paid for through a grant from Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund but requires further funding as well as the support of volunteers to help propagate and grow the trees and plant them along the canals.
To volunteer and help create the world’s longest community orchard visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk