Orchard project is brought to fruition

PUBLISHED: 09:41 06 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:27 04 May 2010

Getting stuck in at the orchard

Getting stuck in at the orchard

THE people of Little Downham now have their own orchard which will provide free apples for the community for many years to come. The orchard, planted last month on just over an acre of land adjacent to Cannon Street, is the culmination of seven years of

THE people of Little Downham now have their own orchard which will provide free apples for the community for many years to come.

The orchard, planted last month on just over an acre of land adjacent to Cannon Street, is the culmination of seven years of planning and organisation on the part of the villagers to bring the project to fruition.

Keith Norton, chair of Downham Parish Conservation Group, said the planting was a great success.

"It went absolutely superbly," he said.

"About 120 villagers came down to help plant the trees - there were hot dogs from the local butcher and it was a very local occasion."

A total of 50 trees were planted, all of which will bear local varieties of apples, which members of the community can help themselves to.

"It really looks like an orchard now," Mr Norton said.

The orchard has also made local history in that it is the first statutory nature reserve in the district.

"This means it can't be taken away," Mr Norton - who used to be a countryside manager in Buckinghamshire - said.

The project was set in motion seven years ago when a group of villagers applied to the district council for the lease on the plot.

"After patiently waiting and giving our case, the council gave us a 60-year lease," Mr Norton said.

The group then set about paying for the lease and invited Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - to the site. Defra agreed to pay 80 per cent of the costs and the Downham Feoffees the other 20.

"People will now be able to help themselves to the apples that grow at the orchard," Mr Norton said.

"Free scrumping!

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