Newbury plans to plant orchards in public parks

Victoria Park in Newbury
Image caption Parks in Newbury could be used to plant fruit trees

A Newbury man is calling for orchards to be planted in the town's parks and the harvests given to people who cannot normally afford to buy fruit.

Jeremy Gorbold's idea won a competition by Sustainable Newbury, a group which promotes local activities which are good for the environment.

He said: "It struck me the council had park land and the budget to sustain it. Why not replace them with fruit trees?"

Graham Hunt from Newbury Town Council said it was a "brilliant idea".

"There are some issues, we're just a small council and we've got one grounds maintenance officer," he said.

"He's brilliant, but he's already looking after more than 40 open spaces, a couple of cemeteries, six allotments sites with 500 plots, and 15 children's playgrounds.

"We will have to find some volunteers to look after the community growing areas."

'Beautiful blossom'

Carina Dunkerley is the founder of the London Orchard Project in London, which has planted over 23 orchards in the past two years.

She said she had found it easy to attract volunteers.

"We put out an advert asking community if they'd like to see more fruit trees in their local parks. Within four days we had 120 people get in touch," she said.

"The great thing about fruit trees is they have a great landscape value with beautiful blossom in the spring, but in the autumn you also have lots of nice local fruit."

Ms Dunkerley said vandalism had been deterred by using local communities and school children to plant the trees.

Anne Marie Culhane set up a project in Sheffield in 2007 which redistributed surplus fruit from trees growing all over the city on private and public land.

She said: "We've had no issues so far, we've been running for three years and have 200 volunteers."

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