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Shipley’s new orchard sows seeds of community spirit

The desire to do something different with an area of grassland in Shipley has led to the community coming together to plant a new orchard.
1 - Tree planting in Shipley

A group of residents from the Wycliffe Neighbourhood Association asked the people of Shipley what they would like to happen on the hilly grassed area near Wycliffe Road and Moorhead View.

After running consultations in the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley, the community group then reached out to children from Wycliffe CofE Primary School for their thoughts on the best use for the land.

Councillor Rhona North, Chair of Shipley Town Council’s Allotments and Green Spaces Committee, and a member of the Wycliffe Neighbourhood Association, said: “I’m passionate about gardening, biodiversity and the community where I live. We put our passions together and found out what the people of Shipley wanted to see happen to this beautiful area of grassland.

“Through the Wycliffe Neighbourhood Association we got in-touch with Incommunities who own the land, and Trees for Cities whom we knew did great work funding tree planting in urban areas. We were also really keen to involve local children in the decision about the land, so we engaged with Wycliffe CofE Primary School, who were fully behind it.

“I have been blown away with how the local community has got behind the orchard, and I’m really looking forward to watching the trees grow and the area develop over the years. Hopefully we have put something on this land that will stand the test of time and will be here for years to come.”

The funding for the orchard was provided by Trees for Cities through a National Lottery grant, (kindly supported by Fruitworks for pruning skills). The charity help revitalise forgotten spaces, creating healthier environments, and getting people excited about growing, foraging, and eating healthy food.

The land where the orchard has been planted belongs to housing provider Incommunities, who worked with Rhona and the other organisations to make the orchard a reality.

Andrew Peacock, Grounds Maintenance Team Leader at Incommunities, said: “I worked with Rhona and the team on the consultations and went into the school to hear first-hand the children’s ideas for the area of land. They had some great suggestions for the types of fruit trees that they wanted to see planted. It’s been great to then see the same children come down and get involved in the planting of the orchard.

“We had two planting sessions, one during the week for the children and one on a Saturday for local residents. Both of these days were really well attended and together we planted 20 fruit trees. We’ve received some lovely feedback from people about the positive difference that the project has already had.

“Now that we have built these partnerships with the Wycliffe Neighbourhood Association, Wycliffe Green Association, the local school, Fruitworks, and Trees for Cities, we’re hoping to work together on more projects in the future.”

Two children from Wycliffe CofE Primary School who took part in the planting of the orchard included Lucas and Nyla.

Lucas said: “I was really happy because the residents that live there liked my star planting idea. I was even happier when this got chosen and we planted the trees in a star shape. I also wanted to say thank you for giving us this opportunity, we loved it!”

Nyla said: “I was really excited when we did the planting, and I cannot wait to see how the trees look once they have grown.”

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