Chalk pit begins transformation into new community orchard

PUBLISHED: 10:34 05 March 2013 | UPDATED: 10:34 05 March 2013

Residents of Heydon, Viven Carroll, Diana MacFadyen, Margaret Butcher, Peter Smith, Philip Gough, Pat Gough, Lyn Vokes, Rosemary Livings, President of W.I, and Michael Carroll plant trees on the old chalk pit in Heydon

Residents of Heydon, Viven Carroll, Diana MacFadyen, Margaret Butcher, Peter Smith, Philip Gough, Pat Gough, Lyn Vokes, Rosemary Livings, President of W.I, and Michael Carroll plant trees on the old chalk pit in Heydon

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GREEN shoots of recovery will soon be appearing at disused chalk pit which is being transformed into a community orchard.

The first trees were planted at the new orchard, in Heydon, on Saturday, with volunteers from the village and members of Heydon Parish Council on hand to help Michael Carroll, the village tree warden, with the digging.

Funding for the project has come from the parish council and South Cambridgeshire district council.

Cllr Diana MacFadyen, chairman of Heydon Parish Council, said: “A couple of us went to a South Cambs District Council meeting and saw a presentation by Rob Mungovan, their Ecology Officer, about the planting of new orchards, and we thought it would be a good idea for Heydon.

“The chalk pit has been there since the 1500s, and the chalk was used for the road surfaces and for floors in some of the old cottages. There were a few old sheds on the site which had to be taken down, as well as a lot of nettles which we had removed ready for planting the trees.”

To start the orchard the parish council has purchased five cherry trees, with the Heydon and Great Chishill Women’s Institute buying two apple trees which were also bedded in at the weekend.

“My children used to play at the chalk pit, and now with the orchard we want to encourage more people from the village to use it,” said Cllr MacFadyen.

“We’ve put a picnic bench in and it was wonderful to see children running around and playing there.”

The district council, which provided half the funding for the project, is encouraging parishes to build new orchards, with the aim of striking a balance between creating space for healthy tree growth, wild areas for biodiversity and open outdoor spaces for people to enjoy.

Cllr Ray Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Leader, said: “This is the second community orchard to be planted in as many weeks, which is fantastic.

“It’s great to see underused land being used in such a positive way that will not only benefit the local community, protect local varieties of fruit and provide a crucial habitat for wildlife, but that will also protect the traditional orchard, which is such an important part of our local heritage.”

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