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Killingbeck community orchard comes third in national competition

Killingbeck community orchard on the Sutton estate in East Leeds has scooped a £500 prize after it was named one of the best community orchards in the UK.

The project was awarded third prize in the Helping Britain Blossom Community Orchard Awards which the orchard entered earlier this year. Judges praised the team behind the fledgling orchard for being a great example of a well-engaged, energetic local community orchard, with ongoing plans and ambitions.

The community orchard, located 100m from the community allotments on the social housing estate, was created by the community in the winter of 2015 from a fenced off unused corner of the estate.

The plan had been to create a public space that everyone could enjoy and reap its social and environmental benefits – including free fruit for all. Helping Britain Blossom, a partnership between HEINEKEN and The Orchard Project provided the expertise, training and trees as part of an initiative to create and restore community orchards across Britain. Seven of these community orchards have been planted in under-used spaces and council parkland in and around Leeds.

16 fruit trees including pear, apple, plums, cherry and apricot, mulberry make up the orchard as well as blackcurrant bushes and strawberries.

Since planting the orchard, the community has embraced it.  The unused area of the estate has hosted a summer gala with barbecue, live bands, stalls selling the local preserves made from the orchard’s strawberries, an apple day, juicing events and wigwam shelter building activities for kids.  There have also been restorative pruning training days and a scything workshop.

Luke Tilley, orchard volunteer and the chair of the local allotment society said: “The award is a fantastic recognition of everything we’ve been doing.  I would never have imagined when I was at school that my creative writing would help win an award one day.   We intend to use the money to put on more activities such as a forest school or health & wellbeing sessions and to plant up more currant bushes and strawberry plants.

“Children love playing in the orchard and adults enjoy the produce.  So, thank you to some of the allotment’s busiest gardeners who give up time to help maintain the orchard and thank you to Alan and The Orchard Project for their ongoing support and encouragement.  We’d like to establish a maintenance group and welcome adult volunteers looking to do something active and healthy.  We’re a fun, sociable group and need more locally grown free fresh fruit, so let’s plant more trees!”

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