Community orchard groups from across Manchester, celebrating Britain’s rich fruit growing heritage were today joined by Conservative MP and EFRA Select Committee chair Neil Parish MP at Parrs Wood Rural Studies Centre, Didsbury.
The event was hosted by representatives of the Helping Britain Blossom project, a partnership between HEINEKEN and The Orchard Project, the UK’s largest co-ordinated community orchard project.
In a specially arranged Q&A session, Mr Parish learnt how the Helping Britain Blossom project is leading the way in helping urban communities to develop healthy, sustainable neighbourhood communities which encourage biodiversity and provide a source of local, community-grown fruit.
Community orchard volunteers from Manchester, Stockport and Trafford were on hand to provide first-hand experience of the importance of planting, nurturing and restoring community orchards. Helping Britain Blossom has provided the training, know-how and fruit trees to enable community groups across Greater Manchester and in other UK urban centres to establish or restore their own orchards.
Commenting during his visit, Neil Parish MP said: “Community orchards clearly offer wide-ranging benefits, not just by enhancing the nature/biodiversity of a space and as a response to climate change, but also for the people and communities in which they are located. They are also a reminder of Britain’s rich fruit growing heritage and it’s good to see the work that Helping Britain Blossom and community orchard groups are doing to restore interest in local heritage varieties.”
Neil Kingsnorth, Co-CEO of The Orchard Project added: “We were delighted to share the magic of community orchards with Neil Parish MP today, highlighting not just the work we do in Greater Manchester but across Britain in creating a positive lasting legacy for the future. We believe orchards are a powerful way to bring people together to create green spaces and build healthier, happier and more sustainable communities. Studies show orchards offer a wide range of social, environmental and educational benefits. These include improving community cohesion, reducing loneliness, enhancing bio-diversity and improving local surroundings. Community orchards also provide local people with valuable new skills, which can help boost their employment prospects, as well as being a valuable source of nutritious, free fruit.”
Helping Britain Blossom was established and is funded by HEINEKEN who recognises a responsibility to enable the communities in which it lives, works and operates to be more sustainable.
Orchards are at the heart of its business. They have been growing apples and making cider in Herefordshire since 1887, and now harvest over 100,000 tonnes each year.