Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mansbridge Community Orchard Campaign #3

On my third visit I cycled down in my lunch hour on my back-up bike. My number one bike had received a smashed rear wheel on my way to work the previous week, courtesy of a careless driver. If I had been cycling any slower it could have been bye bye Urbane Forager!
This time I had added guidance thanks to local explorer, Bob Painton, Bob is also a very good nature photographer and when I asked if he could take some shots of the fruit in Mansbridge, he did an outstanding job. You can see some of Bob's shots on the Campaign Page or visit his photo stream.
This trip, the third area by the deer stop (next to the fen) revealed itself. It was filled with apple trees with some pears amongst them. I met a local woman named Natalia, she was photographing the apples, I was picking a few and exploring the area.
Massive Comice Pears
On the way home I met Penny and her dog who kindly took this photograph for me – that is the Man’s Bridge behind me and yes, my pannier is filled with Mansbridge apples.

A Rainy Day in Mansbridge on my Back-up Bike

In total there must be at least 50 fruit trees on this Green Space. They are all on the Council's carefully managed land.
The apple and pear trees have grown wild for a number of years now and consequently some of the fruit is quite small but others are full of big red, yellow and green beauties. If the trees were properly pruned the harvest would be greater and the apples bigger and better tasting.
Apples Amongst Flytipped Rubbish - Such a Shame
I do not think that it would take too much time, with the help of a small team of local volunteers and the backing of the City Council with the Park Rangers, to clear the rubbish from this delightfuly wild space and create a Community Orchard.
This proposal will can benefit the area, as well as anyone in the city that cares enough to be involved. It can be used to educate school children about healthy eating and to engage with the natural environment. We could even supply local schools with juice to drink and fruit to eat or cook with.
Establishing a Community Orchard will require permission from the Council as well as working together with advice from the Park Rangers. Some fencing/hedging could be used to protect environmentally sensitive areas and pathways could be carefuly cleared for improved access. The trees will need to be gradually pruned to promote suitable growth and larger fruit. We could plant some plum and cherry trees, to benefit from their earlier fruiting and possibly develop a hazel coppice to use for fencing and nuts.
The Community Orchard can be a beautiful blossom-filled place to walk in the spring. It could be used for picnics and outdoor events in the summer. In the autumn of course we will all be able to benefit from free fruit. All this needs to be carefully balanced with the need to protect the wilderness for the good of plant and animal life.
Beautiful Autumnal Leaves
Anyone willing to offer support of any kind (physical, financial or advisory), please contact us here.

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