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Helping Britain Blossom

What is Helping Britain Blossom?

Helping Britain Blossom shares the magic of orchards across the UK by helping local people create, restore and access orchards which they can enjoy and use for good within their own communities.

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:

  • London

  • Birmingham

  • Hereford

  • Manchester

  • Leeds

  • Scotland

  • And a location to be announced.

We believe that orchards are a powerful way to bring people together to create green spaces and build healthier, happier and more sustainable communities. Through Helping Britain Blossom we want to do just that.

What are Helping Britain Blossom Orchards?

Helping Britain Blossom orchards are a simple proposition: a local community comes together to create or restore green space in their area through the planting of fruit trees. A Helping Britain Blossom orchard can have as few as five trees or hundreds of trees. What matters is that the orchard works for the local community. This safe, green space can then be used for a wide range of community activities to suit local needs. Helping Britain Blossom orchards can be used for recreation, community events and therapeutic sessions. They can also promote community food production and enhance educational curriculums. Not forgetting, of course, that orchards have an important role to play in increasing bio-diversity, creating habitats for a wide range of wildlife and helping stop the decline of important pollinators such as bees.

Which locations is Helping Britain Blossom coming to and when?

Every great journey starts with one great step forward. At Helping Britain Blossom our first step is to create and restore around 100 community orchards across the UK by 2017. We’ll put local people first, with sustainability at the core, and we'll start by focusing our activity in seven areas and their surrounding city and towns.

In 2015 we aim to help around 40 communities in London, Birmingham, Herefordshire and Scotland to plant or restore orchards for community use. In 2016 we'll continue to support these communities and we’ll also help around 60 more communities in Manchester, Leeds and another area (to be decided by a community competition) to get digging, planting and turning their dream orchard into reality.

What are the expected benefits of Helping Britain Blossom?

Helping Britain Blossom is all about giving communities the knowledge and tools they need to make a difference in their areas. We believe that Helping Britain Blossom will provide many benefits, including:

  • building community resilience and community cohesion

  • reducing social isolation by giving people a reason to come together

  • encouraging volunteering

  • promoting awareness of sustainable development and providing outdoor classrooms

  • learning new skills including horticulture and cooking

  • improving health and wellbeing for local residents through outdoor activity and promoting healthy eating

  • tackling climate change

  • enhancing the local environment and biodiversity

  • and acting as a catalyst for further improvements to green spaces.

What are the principles behind Helping Britain Blossom?

There are three key principles that run through everything that Helping Britain Blossom does:

  1. We put local people first

    We don’t own Helping Britain Blossom community orchards – the local community does. Our role is to support local people to achieve their goals and to help them create the best orchards they can. We hope to create a legacy of orchards that continues to benefit local people for decades to come.

  2. Sustainability at the core

    From the long term sustainability of the orchards, to building resilience in local communities, to the environmental benefits that the orchards bring, sustainability is at the core of everything we do.

  3. We have a passion for quality

    We won't compromise on quality. We want to give communities the best support we can provide to help them to create the most accessible, innovative and engaging orchards as well as other inspiring local projects.

What's HEINEKEN's connection with Helping Britain Blossom?

HEINEKEN is the world’s most international brewer – with a passion for quality, enjoyment of life and for respecting individuals, society and the environment. It's a crucial part of their business and their work with the communities they’re part of.

HEINEKEN’s aim is to be the world’s greenest brewer and cider maker. Tending 10,000 acres of orchards in Herefordshire, they have long term commitments with local farmers which span generations. Around 30% of the apples grown in the UK are used in the ciders they make. Put simply, orchards are at the heart of HEINEKEN’s business in the UK.

How to Get Involved

How can I get involved?

If you live or work in one of the seven areas identified and you have a suitable community space for an orchard or want to start a restoration project, feel free to get in touch:

  1. Send details of your community group and location and whether you want to create a new orchard or restore an orchard. Don’t forget to include your contact details. To see if your location lies within one of our priority areas, click here.

  2. Once we receive your details we'll get in touch to chat through your vision in more detail. We'll need to consider opportunities for local involvement and land access too.

  3. If there’s an opportunity to work together we’ll arrange a time to visit the site with you. We’ll use the visit to look at everything from soil to sunshine hours.

  4. Together we’ll then agree the best way to move things forward and, if it’s all good to go, we’ll develop a proposal for your community orchard as part of Helping Britain Blossom.

Although we'd love too, we can't progress every orchard request we receive. If we’re not able to help, we'll always take time to explain the reasons why – as well as suggesting further options that might be available to you.

I'd love to volunteer and support my local Helping Britain Blossom orchard, how do I make this happen?

You can find your local Helping Britain Blossom orchard via the ‘Find Us’ section or by getting in touch with us via the ‘Contact Us’ page. We’ll send your request to your local Helping Britain Blossom Project Manager who’ll be able to advise you on opportunities to get involved in your local Helping Britain Blossom community orchard.

All our volunteers receive specialist training on how to plant, restore and maintain an orchard. We ask that volunteers commit to undertaking the minimum requirement for training. This is because we believe that for a community orchard to thrive we need skilled people to look after them.

How do you select orchards that will receive support?

Our local Helping Britain Blossom Project Managers and community partner organisations work together to find and explore opportunities on the ground. They work with communities which have expressed an interest in planting or restoring an orchard to establish whether the community has the capacity, local support, energy and resources to maintain an orchard for the long term. If the community doesn’t have all the necessary support and resources in place, we’ll offer guidance and advice on how they can be ready to take on a Helping Britain Blossom orchard in the future.

Tools and resources

What resources do you provide through Helping Britain Blossom?

Helping Britain Blossom works with local groups who are passionate about developing or restoring an orchard in their community. We’ll provide:

  • Fruit trees and advice on the right varieties for each orchard

  • Training on how to look after the trees and orchard

  • Leadership training on how to engage with the wider community

  • Support with local promotion and advice on how to get people involved

  • A wide range of resources to get the most out of each orchard including educational activities, ideas for community events and information on the many ways that orchards can make a difference locally

  • Equipment and resources

  • A network of like-minded groups to share experience across the country and the opportunity to learn best practice

  • Tools to measure the impact and resources to help celebrate.

Do you provide funding or grants?

At Helping Britain Blossom we support community orchards in a very practical way – by providing information, expertise and trees. We do not provide direct funding or grants.

Do you provide trees?

We provide trees for Helping Britain Blossom community orchards only. This is part of our commitment to sustainability because trees are a crucial element that makes a successful community orchard thrive and blossom.

What support do you provide on the Ground?

Helping Britain Blossom has trained regional Project Managers who are our orcharding experts on the ground. They play a vital role in supporting local communities to create and restore orchards.

Our Project Managers know their local area, understand the needs of the community and have great relationships with local agencies.

Project Managers help groups to plan and manage their community orchard. They also help conduct an initial site visit, research the specification of trees and help with the development of an orchard management plan. As well as providing Orchard Leader and technical training, they also offer advice and support on engaging the wider community.