A TREE planting ceremony was held to mark the opening of a new community orchard in Stratford.
The event at Rowley Fields also fell on World Wildlife Day which is celebrated internationally to raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
The ceremony to launch the newly named ‘Rowley Community Orchard’ was organised by grant-giving organisation Stratford Town Trust and Friends of Rowley Fields.
Among the group were former Top Gear presenter Quentin Wilson and Ian Jelley from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT).
The new orchard aims to contribute to carbon neutral targets which have been set for 2030 in the district.
It includes a variety of fruit trees from apples and pears, to damsons, cherries and plums planted throughout last week. Many are native to Warwickshire and a mixture of early and late fruiting trees means the orchard should bear fruit in the summer months. There is also a space for community picnics and for schools to use as an outdoor classroom.
Town trust chief executive Sara Aspley said: “The orchard is going to be a real asset and focal point for the community to get together. 2020 has been designated a super year of nature and biodiversity so we’re pleased that as well as providing fruit for everyone to enjoy, it will also provide a source of food for insects, bees, birds, butterflies and small animals and help to increase the biodiversity in this area.”
Youngsters from Thomas Jolyffe who have been studying the environment also joined the ceremony to plant their own tree and read poetry.
Deputy headteacher Matt Penn said: “The children are learning about the importance of looking after the environment and the new community orchard is a great example of a wildlife friendly space that will benefit people as well as animals for generations to come.”
Mr Jelley added community orchards had many benefits and WWT was pleased a previously unused area was being put to ‘such good use.’