‘Our gardens – our virtual orchard’
The RA is starting a long-term fruit tree initiative for our villages. The initiative, which will include the involvement of residents, has three aspects:
- to research our local fruit tree heritage and share this with residents
- to find out which fruit tree varieties resident have (or had) in their gardens
- to encourage the succession planting of more fruit trees and to discourage the removal of older, viable fruit trees.
Many of us will have seen articles about the rapid loss of traditional orchards across Britain. There is research by a national orchard project which suggests that ‘90% of traditional orchards have been lost since the 1950s due to neglect,
development or conversion to intensive modern orchards. Remaining orchards are often found to be in declining condition as a habitat – often due to the lack of replacement tree replanting.’
Old fruit trees and orchards are critical to biodiversity and wildlife. They provide rich habitat for our pollinators, without which nearby crops and agricultural production suffer. Fruit trees, like many other species of tree, are
playing an increasingly important role taking up excess rainfall and providing cooling shade, in our gardens and communal spaces, as we face climate change.
We may not have many of our traditional orchards left in Byfleet, West Byfleet and Pyrford, but if we think like a pollinator, which ignores fences and boundaries when the lure of nectar and pollen calls, we do have village
orchards. They are just spread across our gardens! It is within our power to add to our ‘virtual orchard’ one garden at a time!
Community involvement and the future
We envisage this being a long-lived initiative. Once we have the data about our past and present ‘virtual orchard’ profile we would hope to arrange exhibitions, involve local schools in related art, science and environmental projects and even arrange a Fruit Fair Day in the villages in the years to come – the possibilities are endless!
If you would like to be involved in the project, we would love to hear from you. The same applies if you simply have ideas or memories relevant to the project – all would be valued.
Contact email@example.com or write to the Residents’ Association, c/o Byfleet Village Hall, 54 High Road, Byfleet, KT14 7QL.
Thank you. Rich pickings ahead!
Eleanor Grady and Jean-Pierre Frossard
BWBP Residents’ Association Village Representatives for Byfleet