West Oxfordshire residents invited to create over 50 community orchards in district

Residents of west Oxfordshire have been invited to join the council in planting over 50 community orchards in the district.
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The invitation follows West Oxfordshire District Council’s successful bid to secure £50,000 in funding from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ Coronation Living Heritage Fund.Local groups that want to create a community orchard with space to plant at least five fruit trees are now able to apply for a portion of the funding from the district council.

Cllr Andrew Prosser, executive member for climate change at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know there’s a lot of interest in the benefits that orchards can offer, both as a means to boost biodiversity and provide new habitats for wildlife and as a way of bringing communities together.

"Yet currently, orchards account for less than one percent of the district’s land cover. In the last hundred years or so, over 80 percent of orchards have disappeared across Oxfordshire, with half of those which remain reported to be in poor condition.

Cllr Lidia Arciszewska, and Cllr Andrew Prosser, from West Oxfordshire District Council, stood at Deer Park’s orchard, WitneyCllr Lidia Arciszewska, and Cllr Andrew Prosser, from West Oxfordshire District Council, stood at Deer Park’s orchard, Witney
Cllr Lidia Arciszewska, and Cllr Andrew Prosser, from West Oxfordshire District Council, stood at Deer Park’s orchard, Witney

"The trees planted in the Coronation orchards will play an important role not only by increasing the number of trees in the district, but as they age, these trees will develop hollow trunks and rot holes that will offer nesting sites for bats and birds and support an abundance of insect life throughout their life cycle.”

Residents will have until January 19 to apply for the funding, and successful applicants will be notified by January 31, with the planting due to take place over February and March.

For more information, including how to apply for the funding, visit https://www.westoxon.gov.uk/CoronationOrchards