Orchard sprouts from wilderness
VOLUNTEERS who transformed a derelict patch of wasteland into a fruitful community orchard have celebrated the site’s official opening.
Members of the Athlone and Avondale allotment association, based off Hornby Street in Bury, have worked tirelessly to improve the site for eight years.
In 2005, they discovered two wild and unkempt plots between West Drive and Avondale Avenue planted with huge bushes and trees.
The overgrown land had originally been rented to West Drive residents and was inaccessible – with volunteers squeezing through a small hole to get into the site.
After clearing diseased trees and hundreds of saplings, it was discovered the ground was unsuitable for allotments, so the idea of planting a community orchard was born.
Allotment association secretary Jenny Bowring, of Birley Street, said: “We want to show the public what a fantastic makeover this has been.
“The transformation of a scrubby, derelict plot into a productive and lovely little orchard has been fantastic and over the past three years especially the area has completely changed.
“We have work days where all the volunteers get together and work on the lots, so it is a very personal space for everyone who is involved.
“We want this to be something the wider community can enjoy and we would like people to come and help out and then enjoy harvesting the fruit with us.
“People who are on the waiting list for allotments have the opportunity to help with the orchard, as do those who may have had an allotment but had to give it up as they got older.”
Jenny said allotment association chairman Gary Hardman had been the “driving force” behind the project and volunteer Stuart Borrill had single-handedly planted many of the trees while on the waiting list for a plot.
Volunteers have cleared the land, created a wildlife hedge to attract hedgehogs, hibernating frogs, rabbits, owls and other birds and created raised beds for people to grow herbs.
They also set up bird and bat boxes and planted fruiting trees which will bear apples, pears, greengages, baking apples and cherries as well as gooseberry bushes, redcurrant bushes and rhubarb plants.
Jenny added: “This project has created a personal, friendly, productive sanctuary for plot holders past and present, has brought people together and gives a starting point for those waiting of plots of their own.
“There was some opposition from neighbours who were apprehensive about losing their “green view” but the changes to the site enhance the area for us all.”
The association completed the project with grants and donations from Big Community Funding, Forever Manchester, Red Rose Forest Project, Bury Metro and The Woodland Trust.
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