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Is This Britain’s Longest Community Orchard?

With 1200 residents on the Cottingley Hall estate in Leeds, a small orchard wasn’t an option as far Cottingley in Bloom volunteers were concerned; they set their sights on something far more ambitious – a half mile avenue of fruit trees. Back in February a team of over 50 residents, volunteers from local businesses and the Parks and Countryside Service came together to plant 65 fruit and nut trees around the periphery of the estate.

Cottingley in Bloom are a dynamic group of residents always on the look out for ways to make the estate more beautiful. They have been prolific in planting thousands of bulbs so they jumped at the chance of working with Helping Britain Blossom to plant 3 separate orchards on the estate in February this year.

An unlikely location, the orchard is situated on the west side of the estate, which has the East West intercity railway at one end, a ring road encircling it and the M621 junction at the other end.

Alan Thornton , Helping Britain Blossom Leeds project manager said,

“The location of the Cottingley Hall orchard is testimony to the fact that you don’t have to live in the country to have a community orchard. What you do need is a passionate group of people to take on its care, which is what Cottingley Hall has with its dedicated Cottingley in Bloom volunteers, who’ve been known to plant 7000 daffodil bulbs in less than two hours! They’ve got the enthusiasm. Our involvement is to provide the knowledge, tools and trees needed to create a sustainable orchard.

Local councillor and chairperson of the group, Angela Gabriel also chair of Cottingley in Bloom said,

“We planted a few fruit trees 10 years ago, but we didn’t know what we were doing, so they didn’t survive. This time, with Helping Britain Blossom’s teaching, tools and support we’re much more confident and have made group decisions about what to plant and where. We’ve planted some large apple trees to help protect houses from the motorway traffic noise and are planting early, mid and late flowering varieties of fruit tree which will blossom across a succession of seasons and when established will be seen by M62 drivers. We’re hoping an area which one time was a dumping ground will become a record-breaking orchard, possibly the longest in the UK, something Cottingley can be truly proud of.”

As far as we know this is the longest community orchard in Britain, at 630 metres, and there are already plans to make it even longer next winter.

Do you know of a longer community orchard? Let us know over on Facebook.

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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