Orchard Link has secured a grant of £40,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to revitalise community orchards in South Devon and support and sustain the groups who are looking after them.
Orchard Link, a voluntary group made up of committed local orchard owners, is working with South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit to deliver this two year project.
Twenty community orchard groups across South Devon have expressed interest in participating including Ashprington, Dartmouth, Newton and Noss and Stokenham. Their orchards vary in age from 20 to over 100 years old and are all managed by community volunteers.
The community orchards grow just over 1000 trees and are within walking distance to thousands of people. They are open access and are an important open green space as well as a wildlife resource and landscape heritage feature. The sites vary in condition but all have the enthusiasm of volunteer groups who just need the skills and expertise to manage them to their full potential.
There will be a programme of training, skillshare workshops, advice, networking opportunities and digital support, including a new community orchards online toolbox. The community groups will be supported through this programme to help them and their orchards become resilient and long lasting assets to their local area.
Orchards are intrinsic to South Devon landscape, culture and tradition and provide valuable habitats for wildlife. Community Orchards are a focus for participation in events, activities and a link with our natural and social heritage. The number of Community Orchards in the area is increasing and this project will ensure that groups looking after them are supported and trained to manage them well.
Charles Staniland – Chair of Orchard Link commented “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will enable us to engage with the many community orchard groups in our area. The enthusiasm of the community orchard groups we have met is tremendous and we are looking forward to working together to ensure the long term sustainability of orchards across South Devon.”
Nicky Bailey, AONB Community projects officer said “We are excited to be working with Orchard Link to support community orchards across the AONB. Orchards are an important feature of the protected landscape and by connecting local people to the landscape of their area, we can maximise benefits to wildlife from positive management of these key habitats”
Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “As well as being distinctive features of the South Devon landscape, our orchards are a haven for wildlife and a link to some incredible traditions and local memories. However in the last century they have faced a significant decline. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which will equip volunteers already working towards a bright future for our orchards, with the skills and partnerships they need and inspire a new generation of custodians of our wonderful natural heritage.”