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Come on you Reds!

As the new football season kicks off, we’re delighted that fans of Manchester’s FC United will be able to help themselves to some free fruit courtesy of Helping Britain Blossom.

Fruit trees come in all different shapes, sizes and colours but for our latest community orchard in Greater Manchester red is most definitely the colour, In May the supporter owned and run football club founded in 2005 by Manchester United fans, became the new home of more than 20 red-apple-bearing fruit trees relocated from the soon to be redeveloped Moss Gardens in Manchester.

FC United, which is renowned not only for its football but for its community and environment-friendly ethos, plans to create an avenue of trees at its Broadhurst Park ground, featuring not just the apple trees but a wider variety of red fruit trees including cherry and plum, chosen to match the team colours.

On match days, football fans as well as local residents will be able to help themselves to the fruit bounty produced by the established trees, which can then be munched on throughout the match.

A merry team of enthusiastic volunteers from the club, otherwise known as ‘The Diggers’, have received orchard skills training in planting, mulching, pruning and harvesting thanks to Helping Britain Blossom and our local delivery partner City of Trees.

FC United member, bee keeper and head of The Diggers Richard Searle explains:

“As well as being passionate football fans, here at FC United we’re equally as passionate about building a community-based club that is environment and wildlife-friendly.  Since the completion of our new ground at Broadhurst Park in 2014, we’ve planted more than 100 different trees and a variety of pollen-friendly plants and shrubs. This latest addition of 22 apple trees is a further celebration of nature and ties in with our plans to be a pollinator-friendly football stadium.

Then of course there is the added benefit of free fruit for our fans and the wider local community. As a child I grew up in an area where fruit trees were plentiful and helping yourself to delicious ripe fruit was second nature. We want to bring that experience to visitors to Broadhurst Park, year after year.  With the support of Helping Britain Blossom and City of Trees, we hope to achieve that ambition.”

Dan Hasler is Helping Britain Blossom’s Greater Manchester Project Manager and is no stranger to community orchards. He, and local Moss Side residents, established the community orchard at The Moss Gardens, the iconic former Stagecoach bus depot site, which will soon be developed into housing.

Says Dan:

“For the past few months we’ve been working at The Moss Gardens with the teams who will inherit the 56 fruit trees that need to be relocated to make way for housing. Enthused by the thought of getting a free orchard, volunteers from the community groups have helped weed, mulch and re-stake the trees before we moved them.

I’m delighted that FC United and its team of ‘Diggers’ are taking 22 of the trees from The Moss Gardens and giving them an impressive new home at Broadhurst Park, complete with red-painted cladding from leftover pallets from their 2014 stadium build.

Community orchards are such wonderful assets, bringing communities together, teaching new skills, supporting wildlife and producing delicious fresh fruit for the whole community to enjoy.”

We’re looking forward to seeing this community orchard flourish as the football season progresses, half time apples anyone?

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Why Orchards Orchards have played an important role in our communities for hundreds of years, providing a communal space for gatherings and celebrations. Find an Orchard Our ambition by 2017 is to help 100 communities to plant, care for and restore their own orchards. And to get things going, we're focusing on cities and towns in seven parts of the UK