PEOPLE can find out about a new project to raise the profile of Leicester’s community orchards at an open day this weekend.
The event – at Abbey Park education centre – is being held on Saturday 21 October as part of National Apple Day and promises lots of free fruit-themed family fun from 11am to 1pm.
Activities will include storytelling and a visit from the BookBus, tree dressing, art and craft activities, blindfold tasting of fruit and workshops on growing your fruit from seed. There will also be guided walks running during the event.
There will be a chance find out about the new project to map Leicester’s community orchards and bring them back into public use, encouraging people to pick and enjoy the fruit for free.
Abbey Park has one of five easily accessible community orchards open to the public. Others can be found at Evington Park, Evington Arboretum and Western Park, which has two.
The community orchards have a variety of nut and fruit trees including apple, plum, cherry, pear and hazelnut, as well as raspberry and blackberry bushes, all of which offer a useful free source of healthy, nutritious food.
Leicester tree wardens have been visiting orchards across the city, mapping the position of fruit trees and bushes, along with their type and condition. The information will be used to let people know where they can go to pick their own free fruit and nuts, and to help look after the orchards for future generations.
The project is supported by the city council’s public health team, Leicester Environmental Volunteers, The Conservation Volunteers (TVC) and Walk Leicester. The aim is to link the orchards with advice on healthy living and outdoor activity.
The project will also highlight the value of orchards to local biodiversity and the valuable food and habitats they provide.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, who leads on parks, trees and woodlands, said: “There are a surprising number of community orchards in parks and open spaces across the city, where people can pick their own healthy and nutritious fruit and nuts for free.
“This new project aims to raise the profile of these orchards, bring them back into wider community use and encourage more people to get involved in enjoying them and looking after them. Getting involved is a great way to get outdoors, stay active and meet new people.”
For more information about how you can become involved in helping look after a community orchard in your area email Leicester Environmental Volunteers at Lev@leicester.gov.uk
Details of the project, and more information about the community orchards and the National Apple Day event on Abbey Park, are available here