The idea for a community orchard in Manor Park was put forward by GAFA to High Peak Borough Council at the Glossopdale Allotments Forum in February 2009. With the help of High Peak’s Tree Officer, Monica Gillespie and a ‘Going Local’ grant from the Council, the first trees were planted in December 2009, with a further planting in autumn 2010.
The young orchard is made up of apple, pear, plum and damson trees. Many of the apple varieties are heritage varieties bred in Derbyshire or the north of England to produce good fruit in the cooler, wetter and windier climate. These varieties often have exotic names such as Newton Wonder, Lord Derby or the more earthy Bloody Ploughman.
The first fruit was harvested from five trees in 2011 and shared by a team of GAFA volunteers on one of the autumn “Work and Fun” days. GAFA usually holds two or three “Work and Fun” afternoons (lasting 2-3 hours each) over the autumn/winter period when a gang of volunteers do the hard work of weeding around and applying compost to existing trees and planting new ones. Part of the fun is to enjoy tea/coffee and homemade cake containing local fruit after the work is done.
The future vision for the Orchard is for it to become an educational facility for local schools as well as for local people generally to learn about producing ‘top fruit’ and to enjoy the fruits of their labours. The overall aim is to give local people the skills to propagate their own trees and successfully produce good crops of high quality fruit from them using low-input or organic growing techniques.
In future years, cuttings will be taken from the existing trees to produce more trees for local community groups to create their own mini-orchards in their local area. To support this, a tree nursery is being set-up by GAFA. The nursery will also grow other native tree species.
The development of Manor Park Community Orchard and the associated tree nursery is also supported by a grant from Shanks Waste Management (Derby).