Delight over site approval for Sherborne community orchard
Plans to create Sherborne’s first community orchard have taken a step forward after a location was approved by the town council.
Town councillors backed proposals to incorporate Sherborne community orchard into the Quarr Nature Reserve, off Blackberry Lane.
The agreement means the next stage of the development can go ahead.
As well as being a beautiful addition to the landscape, those behind the orchard hope it will become a productive community asset – yielding an apple crop, juice and even cider.
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Town councillors praised the idea. Councillor Anthony Cook said: “I am happy to give it my full support.”
Joanna Lowndes, 57, co-ordinator of the Sherborne Community Orchard Group, said the approval was great news.
Mrs Lowndes, who helped to set up the group nearly a year ago, said interest in the project continues to grow.
She said: “This means we can finally get the project off the ground.
“We’re hoping to recruit even more people in upcoming events and are planning to plant this autumn.”
The plot of land lies to the south of the Quarr Nature Reserve, adjacent to the skatepark, and bordered by Blackberry Lane to the east and agricultural land to the west.
Existing public entrances to the Quarr give direct access to the site.
Although the orchard’s very first crop of apples may not be ready to harvest for up to two years, Mrs Lowndes hopes the group can host events in the meantime.
She said: “We are planning to hold apple days, similar to the traditional events which take place in this area during the autumn, where people can bring apples to be identified and learn about the crop. We want to celebrate apples and also encourage people to join in.
“We’ll also be planting some smaller trees which will fruit much earlier.
“There is so much we could do with the apples when they are harvested.
“We could press them to make our town’s own cider or juice and lots of other produce.
“We’ve even plans to create Sherborne’s very own apple tree by growing some plants from pips.
“We want the orchard to be organic to encourage more wildlife such as bees and to also bear the existing wildlife in mind.”
The group will work closely with the Friends of the Quarr and also seek advice from other bodies such as the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
But Mrs Lowndes said there is still quite a way to go before the orchard sees its first fruit.
She said: “The preparation of the soil requires lots of work, particularly with removing the top soil and clearing the site.”
Former mayor of Sherborne Jane Smith, a member of the Friends of the Quarr, said: “This is the sort of thing that we want in the Quarr. There is a synergy between the two projects.”
Miss Lowndes said the group is planning an event at the Quarr Nature Reserve and focusing on applying for funding for the project.
For information and to volunteer for the Sherborne Community Orchard Group call 01935 814033 or visit www.sherbornegreen.org.