The development of the St Anns Community Orchard was first realised in 2001, with initial funding from the Health Initiatives Budget via the local Groundwork Trust.
Over a period of six months ten overgrown plots were cleared, mature trees were pruned and about 80 new trees were planted by local schools and volunteers. Monthly Activity Days were established and both the site and the project began to take shape.
Developing a space to learn and explore
Further funding was secured from the local City Council to cover costs of staff time and to keep the Orchard running. Numbers of people at Activity Days grew and the project continued to work closely with local schools, including weekly visits from a learning support group from a local secondary school. In addition, a local out-of-school club began a series of very successful play-based day-visits.
The St Anns Community Orchard has gone from strength to strength. Various funding awards have enabled us to develop our work with local schools and nurseries. This has increased the Orchard’s income-generating capabilities, while Activity Days have provided the local community with opportunities to learn new skills and express creativity. It is also an instant passport to adventure for kids of all ages with its pond, stream and carefully maintained wilderness.
Events and our work with schools
The Orchard is now seen as a very valuable and well-loved part of the community. Occasional special events feature tours of neighbouring projects and the huge allotment site itself, and workshops of all kinds including greenwood crafts, environmental arts and music.
Our Education Project has centered around the Community Orchard, and there is now a regular, healthy programme of educational activities working with children aged 3 to 16 from local schools.
The Orchard also plays host to Millennium Award holders – long-term volunteers who received mentoring support to develop their own projects on the Orchard. Projects included greenwood crafts, environmental art, community horticulture and working with children. These volunteers continue to devote huge amounts of time to the project, often working alongside paid staff when groups visit.