This project, funded by Welsh Government and led by Social Farms & Gardens has seen the development of 57 new community orchards across Wales in 2020. The aim of the Orchards for Wales project is to provide much more than a fruitful, efficiently used, green space. This is about communities leading and managing growing spaces. It is stimulating; carbon capture, biodiversity, community cohesion and local food growing whilst helping to showcase alternative models of urban agriculture. The original project aims were simply set out as:
- To create 10 new community orchard sites, in different settings all over Wales.
- To promote and support small and micro-Welsh fruit & nut tree businesses.
- To gather and create a hub of information for all things orchard related.
- To network with and support each site in its aims and ambitions and in doing so strengthen the Welsh Heritage Orchard Cluster Group.
As the fruits grow so will our methods of orchard production, storage, education, and other legacies including skills development and micro enterprise at a community level will be gleaned from the project and its supportive sites. Stimulated by the connection of this project a new network of community led
orchards is emerging, with over 119 sites and growing, Wales may well be leading the revival of Orchards, especially those in community ownership and management. Not only do orchards deliver for people and communities – traditional orchards are a priority habitat which has largely disappeared. These new traditionally managed orchards with unimproved grassland understory will go some way to replacing this lost habitat as they mature. Most of the trees planted are also Welsh Heritage varieties which are now spread across Wales making them less vulnerable to disappearing and protecting our heritage and the resilience of our food production. Over 4,100 apple, plum, pear & medlar trees have been planted which will have a huge benefit to a whole range of pollinators, especially those that are planted in the more urban areas.
This project delivers against many of the aims of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act – a resilient, healthier Wales – with cohesive communities of vibrant culture. It is contributing to the Clean Air Bill, The Pollination Action Plan for Wales, Wales’ Community Grown Food Action Plan and other important key priorities for Wales.